The Expendables, 2010, USA
In theory, this movie was a genius idea. Getting together a bunch of aging (and contemporary) action stars and getting them to kick ass is an awesome idea, and the movie practically markets itself. However, this film was poorly executed.
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is the leader of a group of mercenaries known as The Expendables. The group features Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Tool (Mickey Rourke). They’re given a job to do: overthrow a General (David Zayas) in South America. When they realize that this is a suicide trip and that the General is a puppet controlled by an ex-CIA agent (Eric Roberts), The Expendables apparently decide to kick some more ass.
As you can no doubt tell by the names of the characters, the apparent goal of the movie was to use every single action-movie cliché imaginable. These characters are paper-thin and all of the actors, save for Rourke are essentially slightly more badass versions of themselves, with the most painfully ridiculous names imaginable (seriously, who names a character “Lee Christmas”?!). The characters have no sense of self-preservation (blowing shit up is generally a poor choice, especially when you are near said explosion), but they are seemingly invincible.
Apparently The Expendables 2 is a better movie, and I’ll probably see it at some point. It would be hard for it not to be a better movie, because I genuinely can’t think of anything particularly enjoyable about the movie itself. Most of the fun came out of the snarky observations I made throughout. There was a particularly awkward moment where Eric Roberts’ character mentioned that he would not hit a woman but that his henchman, played by Steve Austin, would. As Austin is quite well known for being violent towards past partners, this was the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve seen on film since Austin’s attempt at being “romantic” in The Condemned. Yes, I’ve seen The Condemned.
I do recognize that I’m not the target audience for this type of movie. But “action movie” and “crap” are not one and the same. There are many intelligent action movies out there featuring complex characters and compelling plots. This was not one of them. Building a movie around fight scenes and explosions and “cool” moments for the characters does not make a good movie. The A-Team fell into this same trap, but it was actually the superior movie, as it turns out. But that may also be in part because I have a fondness towards much of the cast of The A-Team.
The movie aired on Space, and I’m quite confused as to how it qualified as any sort of science fiction movie. There is a plethora of gunfire, fights and explosions, but this was not a science fiction movie.