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The Expendables (DVD)
Member Name: proxam
The Expendables (DVD)
Date: 12/05/11, updated on 04/11/13 (102 review reads)
Advantages: Fast pace, lots of action, uncomplcated
Disadvantages: Made 20 years too late for some of the cast
I'm not exactly the biggest fan of action movies, in fact there are many that I've never even seen, such as the Die Hard and Terminator series, but in recent months I've been watching a few more, most notably the Transporter and Crank series. I quite like Jason Stratham (not in THAT way) which has perked up my interest in this genre somewhat. So I was quite happy to receive The Expendables DVD from santa this year...sorry, last year.
The movie was co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone.
The Expendables are a group of mercenaries, namely: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Stratham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture.)
The plot is pretty straightforward. A group of mercenaries are hired to eliminate a corrupt dictator on a small island called Vilena somewhere off the coast of central America.
They get the job from someone using the alias Mr Church (Bruce Willis) who Stallone's character meets in a church (clever). This same scene features Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rival mercenary who turns the job down flat. A scene which promises so much yet delivers so little. Sure, Schwarzenegger and Stallone slag each other off for a few minutes while Willis smiles ruefully, but it could have been a lot better.
Obviously it's not as straightforward as that. The dictator is a mere puppet under the control of an ex 'agency' op (Eric Roberts), the real bad guy. Ross and Xmas check out the island arriving in, of all things, a flying boat or seaplane (flashback to Fantasy Island - ze plane, ze plane). They decide not to take the job, return home, then Ross decides to do it on his own (for no payment) and the others decide to help. (I can't help thinking that it's a strange, and unprofitable way for mercenaries to earn their living, but there you go.) What follows is an orgy of explosive action liberally peppered with ejaculations of testosterone and ripples of botox doused with gallons of tomato sauce (or whatever they use for fake blood these days). In the end, the good guys win...quelle surpise.
There are various subplots going on such as Xmas's girlfriend hooking up with some other guy who then beats up on her. Needless to say this is a big mistake on his part but it gives Stratham the opportunity to sort out the guy and his buddies in his own inimitable style. There's also a strange thing going on with Lundgren's character who kind of swaps sides and swaps back again, I think. Meanwhile, Stallone's and Mickey Rourke's characters are doing a bit of soul-searching and getting far too deep and meaningful for this sort of movie. However, these are merely sub-plots and more of a filler than a fulfillment.
It's all good fun but I got the impression that the making of this had more in common with a stag do than the making of a 'serious' action movie.
There's certainly plenty of action and not too much in the way of deep character portrayal to get in the way, but it's a little too shallow even for a film of its ilk.
Stallone is just too old to be playing these sort of roles - I get the feeling that Arnie and Willis were probably offered meatier roles but wisely had second thoughts. Stallone of the unfeasibly black hair and unwrinkled coupon puffs and pants his way through the whole movie and looks like he'd struggle to catch a bus never mind catch a seaplane on take off (which he astoundingly does).
Apart from Jet Li and Stratham, most of the other Expendables don't really have much too say for themselves (probably just as well) and in fact, what Li has to say isn't all that intelligible anyway. Ditto Mr Lundgren. As for Mickey Rourke's 'close-to-tears' scene, let's just say I was close to tears as well - well, laughing too hard sometimes affects me that way.
Another anomaly that struck me was that early in the movie the island is described as having a small population and an army of no more than few hundred. Strange, because the body count must have stretched into the thousands!
Having said that, it's all good fun and I don't think this was ever meant to be anything more than a tongue-in-cheek last action fling (and pay-day) for Stallone and a few others...until Expendables 2 (Escape from Twilight Home) that is.
Let's face it, none of these action films are/were exactly believable so why should this be any different. In fact when you think about it, is it any more ludicrous that a pensioner is jumping around, shooting off guns and tangling with half the cast of WWF or whatever than a young(er) guy like Stratham running around with an artificial heart whacking all in sight in the quest to find his real one? (Crank 2)
Nope, credulity rather than credibility is the order of the day here.
For all that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think I'd watch it again though and I can contain myself adequately waiting on the inevitable sequel, but I can think of worse ways of spending a couple of hours.
All said and done, I would still recommend this movie.
I usually don't bother with the extras on a DVD but made the special effort just for you guys.
Yes, scene, singular. One deleted scene from the whole movie? This is from the start of the film on the pirate controlled boat, Dolph Lundgren tells a crap joke before he shoots the pirate in two.
Easy to see why it was deleted.
This was OK but as it's essentially a collection of clips showing guys who haven't got the best diction in the world screwing up some pretty simple lines, it's not a great surpise. What is a suprise is Bruce Willis's difficulty in remembering the island's name, Seneta...Valletta...whatever. To be fair, there are a few laughs in it.
BEFORE THE BATTLE - THE MAKING OF THE EXPENDABLES:
A 23 minute documentary about the production of the film. I'm not a fan of these things as they take away the whole magic of the cinema for me. I had a quick scan, but it didn't hold my attention for much more than 23 seconds, never mind minutes.
AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH SYLVESTER STALLONE:
I'm sure this would be quite interesting if you could make out half of what Sly actually says. Again, I watched no more than a few minutes of the 100 or so on offer.
Stills, movie trailer etc. Since I'd already watched the film, I saw no need to watch the trailer.
Summary: All good clean fun