Monday, August 30, 2010

Grumpy Movie Review: The Expendables

Holy shit. I really don't even know where to start with this movie. It's been two days since I've seen it and I keep winding up back at the thing I said when the credits first rolled: That was a fucking train wreck.

I honestly don't know whether that was the worst movie of the year or the best movie of the decade. At this point I'm sure everyone knows the premise: Sylvester Stallone gets hired by Bruce Willis (after a brief encounter with Arnold Schwarzenegger) to take his band of mercenaries played by Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews and fight a corrupt general whose being controlled by drug lord Eric Roberts and henchman Steve Austin. If the plot seems to have gotten lost in a list of current and former action stars, well that's pretty much the point. The plot is basically "Hey, if you're a guy you know all these actors, so come watch them kick ass." So of course I was pretty much obligated by my male chromosomes to see this movie ASAP.

I wasn't going into this movie looking for Shakespeare. I can only assume that when writer/director Sylvester Stallone started accumulating every major action star from the past two decades, he wasn't intending to write a potential contender for Cannes. So plot structure and character development probably high on my list of necessary parts of the script.

But judging by the pacing and scene structure, I'm 99% sure that Sylvester Stallone drank a half-gallon of tequila and edited this movie over the course of 48 hours in Tiajuana. For one thing, with a cast of half a dozen leading men, each guy gets about 2 lines worth of back story. And Stallone must have written characters into the movie as he hired each actor, because it's obvious they have no natural place in the script. Jet Li, for example, gets 3rd billing in the credits, only below Stallone and Statham. But at gunpoint I couldn't tell you his character's name and he has about 4 or 5 more lines of dialogue than the key grip.

But again, fully-developed dialogue is not why anyone went to see this movie. They went to see muscle-bound dudes spout one-liners while blowing shit up. And here The Expendables paid off big time in this department. Within two minutes of the title credits the audience is washed in a tidal wave of all the essential B's: blood, bullets, bombs, and bad acting. The thing is that Stallone actually gets a little greedy, and by trying to jam 3 hours of violence into a 2 hour movie, I found at times my brain couldn't keep up. Scenes eventually just turned into a jumble of fists and blood on the screen.

The only advice that I can give you if you're pondering whether this movie for you is to trust your instincts. If, when you saw the trailer, you instantly knew that you pretty much had to see it, then you are in for a treat. You will love the shitty plot and will have a blast watching people die in creative ways. If your first thought when you saw the trailer was that it looked stupid, then it will be far worse than you could imagine. Ms. Grump, for example, would probably try and push her head through the seat in front of her within the first act of the movie (that is if the movie even had coherent acts). I, however, will definitely be there if and when The Expendables 2 ever becomes a reality. If nothing else, I can't wait for the chance to again witness the funniest thing I've seen at the movies in months: Sylvester Stallone trying to run.

Grade: Either F- or A+


  1. Two words and some punctuation:


  2. Haha yeah I was glad to see him on the big screen again. It keeps surprising me when he speaks and doesn't have a Russian accent.

  3. Not sure when it will trickle down here but it's on my list. I saw an interview with Stallone and based on how coherent he was your tequila theory is probably pretty sound. Does the absence of Van Damme make any difference?

  4. Actually if I read things correctly they gave Van Damme's part to Dolph Lundgren, who I think is underrated and perhaps even better than Van Damme.

  5. I didn't know that but I agree with you about Lundgren vs. VD.

  6. Fantastic Review Mr Grump! A train wreck is the best and pretty much only way to describe this movie.

    Hey, some people stop and look at the massive carnage...other just drive on by. I'm a looker!