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The Expendables (DVD)
Member Name: missrarr
The Expendables (DVD)
Date: 16/03/13, updated on 16/03/13 (73 review reads)
Advantages: Fun, bit daft, brainless entertainment, good cast, plenty of explosions if you like that stuff
Disadvantages: Not as funny or "send up" as you might expect, violent, some cameos disappointing
After the most stressful week of the year at work, I was in a serious need of some down time today. Well, I say that, it was more of a case of not being able to move even if I did want to, and that was after eleven hours of catching up on sleep.
So the DVDs came out. Would it be Al Gore's environmentalist epic, a Tarantino art gang fest or a political and poignant Angelina Jolie effort? The hell it would - it was Mr Rarr's latest Lovefilm offering, The Expendables.
Basically grouping together all the best of the 80s and 90s action movie heroes in one script (apart from Jean Claude Van Damme who has had too much plastic surgery and thus looks too young and is still stuck on that mountain he advertises beer from anyway), The Expendables is a 2010 movie written by Sylvester Stallone. Alongside him in the cast are Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Jet Li (Hero), Arnie (Terminator from when it was great through to when it got stupid, but before it got good again), Dolph Lundgren (some random 80s stuff with JCVD pre-face lift), Jason Statham (dating Kelly Brooks / getting confused with Madonna's ex husband), Eric Roberts (no idea), Randy Couture (sounds a bit chavvy) and Mickey Rourke (some stuff I can't be bothered to watch).
Set in a sleep Somerset village in the late 1800s, The Expendables sees Lord Ross (Stallone) move to the country to recuperate from sickness. Whilst there, he falls for the charms of the youngest daughter of a local landowner, and in an attempt to woo her, stages an elaborate ball at his country manor to which he invites his city friends, Lord Christmas (Statham) and Road (Couture). What follows is an examination of the era's social restraints versus true love.
Alternatively, I might have made that up.
***THE REAL PLOT***
Stallone runs a band of pretty hot-damn hardcore mercenaries and rides around on a bike a lot. Statham is good with knives, Mickey Rourke is a tattoo artist / war veteran and Dolph Lundgren is just nuts.
The film opens on a hostage situation, to which a bunch of rather familiar looking chaps attend and "sort out". Cue graphic violence, yelling, people getting shot, fights, banter etc. But the "good guys" win out and the scene-setting scenario is soon over.
Then Jason Statham starts the "human interest" plotline - realising that, after over a month of not contacting his girlfriend, she has assumed herself dumped and moved on. Jason Statham is not a happy bunny because of this - something he proves whilst still being manly by throwing knives at a target but not very well. Aaw.
So that very basic, obvious scene setting aside, the real plot soon kicks in. There is one scene in which Willis and Arnie show up - that's their sole involvement which to me is a disappointment - and the mercenaries get hired for a job.
Frankly, shortly after that you're in action movie mode and there's not a vast amount I can say on here without ruining what is a fun film by elaborating further, so I shall surmise in a way that I doubt will have you reaching for the smelling salts in affronted shock. Stuff blows up. People get shot. Cars chase other cars. Men banter. More people get shot. Some pretty women appear. More things blow up. There's a bad guy - and another one. Eric Roberts turns out to be the smooth bad guy in a suit - because you need one of those to make an action movie (its actually a real law). Then stuff gets blown up some more.
***ALRIGHT, WE GET IT. IS IT ANY GOOD?***
I actually enjoyed it. I have to admit that with the cast being a bit of a gimmick - ie shoehorning a bunch of action movie stars together - I expected this would be more of a pastiche of an action film, but whilst there is humour there isn't that much of it and I wasn't exactly in hysterics.
That said, it is fast paced, action movie fun. I enjoyed it, it was mindless enough for my mindless state at the time of watching, and it never lagged.
Statham was given high billing in this which surprised me but his character was actually one of the stronger ones and he also got most of the best action sequences. Well, his stunt double did. His "human" storyline with Charisma Carpenter (her off Buffy) were short, but pretty decent all the same.
I think that the cast's impact as an ensemble was reduced by the fact that Arnie took about five seconds from his political career to walk in, deliver a line or two and leave looking like he was on his way to the canteen at his campaign office, in the same scene that Willis appears in his cameo. That scene was great for their appearance - real 80s / 90s homage - and you thought it was the start of the film proper, but they never appear again which was a disappointment (not that they're exactly Day-Lewis like in their gravitas, but its meant to be fun).
This is a film with characters called Yin Yang, Toll Road and Hale Caesar. It's not, in short, Shakespeare. They didn't stint on the "stuff what gets blowed up" budget and the script is sufficiently succinct and "blokey" - there's not a nice wife at home baking scones for any of this lot. There's a little character development but its all plot device and I find it particularly amusing that the "love story that never was" angle was between a very pretty young woman and the ageing writer, Mr Stallone. Well, if you went to the trouble of writing a film you would give yourself the perks, wouldn't you?
The fight scenes were good but there clearly wasn't much scientific training on the part of the continuity / production staff - human heads do not fall off that quickly and for all I saw a lot of "blood" in this film I've never seen it that vibrantly red in real life - clearly these people are all packing the Goji berries or something. It is very graphically violent, limbs get broken and Statham has a real thing for throwing a variety of sharp knives into people from various angles. Also I don't know where these guys are carrying all the explosives they stick to things but they always seem to have about 768 of them to hand at any one time and I can't get to London with lunch and a brolly unless I have a bag the size of Bolivia - so fair play to them. But it's a fun movie, not a documentary on war, and if you take it in the spirit it is intended and are not offended by over the top graphic violence and lots of things going "bang" then you might enjoy this. I'm not going to start a campaign to get it awarded a back-dated Oscar, but it was fun escapism when needed and sometimes that has a value all of its own.
Summary: A good way to waste time if you fancy a bit of escapism