12 Aug
Ironic, or just really expendable...?

I’m pretty much a girlie girl. I pretend to be tough, but the closest I’ve ever gotten to a fight was when a chick in seventh grade gym class made fun of my friend Sophia De La Torre, so I pointed my shaking finger in her face and said, in my best pretend badass voice, “Don’t make fun of my friend!” As soon as this mullet-headed mean girl shoved me into the lockers and aimed to punch me, I cowered, whimpering, “I’m sorry. Didn’t mean it. Sorry.” She backed off, probably just seeing that a wimp like me wasn’t worth messing up her claw-like manicure. Sophia, being a girlie girl herself, thankfully understood.

Well, once I was tough. I got mugged and instead of crying and freaking out I chased the two thirteen-year-old kids that had my purse for a long while. I think I even jumped over a fence. Didn’t catch ‘em though. That could be called something besides tough. Could be called dumb. But I FELT tough! That counts for something. Maybe.

So why now, suddenly, after years of avoiding action movies and instead gravitating toward watching Splendor in the Grass or The Princess Bride for the zillionth time, am I hungry for testosterone-fueled, explosion riddled, blood drenched ACTION? And silly, stiff-as-a-board delivered lines like “I’ll be bock.” Bock; not back. There’s the big dumb fun factor, sure. I did my time spending years watching highfalutin fare like “Contempt” and “The Tin Drum,” and scoffing at “Rambo” and its brothers from another mother. Now though, I’m craving ridiculous, silly, loud, limb-tearing, torso imploding, helicopter swirling ACTION. Exploding heads, damsels in distress, guns the size of not-so-small children. At least I was craving this bloodbath until I watched The Expendables. Seeing this flick has left me feeling about as numb as Stallone’s collagen-plumped lips. Number. And dumber.

Hit the Jump to continue reading The Elf’s review of The Expendables

So here goes. Stallone co-wrote and directed The Expendables. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, and Terry Crews star, with Bruce Willis and our revered California governor Arnie Schwarzenegger popping in for cameos. Oh, and Eric Roberts, one of the creepiest looking dudes around, is the bad guy. The plot is simple, which I’m all for. A group of mercenary tough guys get an assignment: go to a make-believe Spanish-speaking country in “the Gulf,” take out the bad dictator and the even badder corrupt American, save the hot girl, and fly home. I’m cool with that plot. Simple. Basic. It works.

The Expendables trailer…

No question The Expendables is… fun. Numb fun. Like watching a Katherine Heigl rom-com is fun. When you are vulnerable and have the flu. I do wonder if Sly and his “bruthas” were being tongue-in-cheek, or whether they really thought they were making Platoon, 2010. That’s the burning question. There were a few scenes where Stallone’s makeup reminded me of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Throw a long blond curly wig on him, shave his goatee, and he’s an almost dead ringer for Baby Jane Hudson. And here comes Mickey Rourke, with the same plump lips and silly hair, being a tough guy. Mickey Rourke plays the wise Buddha dude who retired from their mercenary gang, and his name is… Tool. Did he not see how silly that name was? Tool. In a movie like this? Tool who dates strippers and inks really lame tattoos. But no matter — it’s Mickey Rourke, and really just the lilt of his voice has integrity. It’s buried under the highlighted hair and weirdly acquired muscles, but it’s there. He grounds the movie in a way, which I guess isn’t a crazy ass feat, considering.

The real trouble with the movie is that it just feels dated… and kinda sad. I mean these guys are OLD, and not like Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery old. They’re Viagra and Rogaine old, and watching them run around with weapons blowing shit up is a lot like listening to a seventy year old has-been drone on about his glory days, telling stories about people you’ve never met or heard of doing stuff before you were born in places you’re not even sure exist. Yawn. There were some fun scenes, sure, but the old fogey factor might just make you nod off at times. Stallone’s lazy direction doesn’t help either. In one scene, Tool sits down to finish a big tattoo on Sly’s back. There’s a lot of work to be done to finish that tattoo – like hours of work. Yet, with no passage of time, in the same scene, Tool magically states, “all done” within about two minutes, and we see Sly’s back all finished. It seems like a small detail, but moments like this riddle the movie and just point out its sloppiness.

Let’s pretend that Stallone and his bruthas were being ironic. Let’s give em the benefit of the doubt here. I mean, he did call his movie The Expendables and he did cast every C-list and aging action star from the 80s (wherefore art thou, Van Damme and Seagal?), so the guy must have a sense of humor about all this. What he doesn’t have though, is balls. There’s a really funny, tongue-in-cheek parody in here somewhere, but I get the feeling Stallone was too vain to truly hit the punch line. What it needed, in the end, was more moments that were in on the joke. I liked it when Randy Couture threw one of the really bad dudes into a fire and even though this dude was obviously not going to make it out of his flaming, screaming dilemma alive, Randy — aka Toll Road — hoisted his big ass gun and shot that mofo in the HEAD! We could have watched him roast alive but instead he shot him in his head that was turning into a flaming ember! That was funny. It scares me that I laughed. But I also laugh at Chucky the murderous doll so…

There are some fun action sequences, mainly with Jet Li – who has actual physical talent – and Jason Statham – who has actual action star sexiness without the hair plugs and Botox. But I do believe my craving for big dumb bloody fun has been obliterated by this movie’s over-the-top laziness. I wanna go watch Cool Hand Luke for the zillionth time, to cleanse myself. He’s a true hero. He had no gun, and when somebody beat the crap out of him his badassness came from the fact that he just would not back down. Luke didn’t have an Uzi or a Humvee outfitted to shoot small missiles. He had some weak-ass boxing gloves they gave him in the pokey and the words “You gonna hafta kill me.” Maybe that’s not funny, but it’s freaking tough.

You gonna hafta kill me…

No Responses to ““The Expendables” Film Review”

  1. ADC says:

    Both Van Damme and Seagal turned down roles (I believe they were to appear in a cameo, Seagal, and as one of the mercs, Van Damme).

    I saw it today and, to me, this was tounge-in-cheek as humanly possible. Specially the thing about the tatoo.

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