Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: The Expendables

SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own peril if you haven't seen the movie.

You may be wondering why I am reviewing The Expendables here on The Daily Beat, a blog admittedly dedicated to Jack Kerouac and all things Beat Generation. Well, first of all, it's my blog and I can write about anything I want. And second, there are some pretty beat characters in the movie, especially Mickey Rourke, who can't help but play a beat character regardless of the role he's in. Having said that (are you listening, Robert?), here goes my brief review of the movie.

It was pretty much what I expected: lots of testerone-driven posturing and banter, high (and bloody) body count (although Rambo was more graphic), and extreme explosions. It's a classic "guy flick," including a couple of attractive females (three, to be exact).

Here are some things I liked. I liked the soundtrack. The heroes' plane took off for the mission accompanied by Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," causing a big smile on my face. This was one of several homages to classic action films of the past (remember Predator and the choppers heading into the jungle with "Travelin' Band" by CCW playing in the background?). Other homages (which go on the "I like" list) included scenes right out of The Magnificent Seven and also The Dirty Dozen (with a better outcome than Jim Brown's fate in that movie, which I always watch and I root for him regardless of knowing what will happen). I think there were obvious references to Commando (especially the plot), as well as to any number of other buddy-action movies, Lethal Weapon being one example.

I liked some of the banter. Mickey Rourke never fails to impress me in a movie - he steals any scene he is in. Stallone was ripped as usual, and the rest were their usual lethal selves. UFC champ Randy Couture's cauliflower ears were the source of some comedy, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was menacing as Eric Roberts' heavy. Speaking of Eric Roberts: Can he play anything but a douchebag? Sorry, I digress.

Here are some things I didn't like. The required opening action scene stretched belief too much for me, and it was too expected. Can't action films find another way to start out without a mini-mission showing how bad-ass the stars can be? The plot was thin, but I expected that. Some of the banter was poorly written. For example, Statham introducing himself as Buda and Stallone as Pest just didn't work. Rourke didn't have enough screen time. The Dolph Lundgren subplot was stupid (especially the ending). And that no one from the the "team" got killed going up against such odds is just astonomically ridiculous.

Was it worth the price of admission? Absolutely. I've always fantasized about unlikely actor combinations, and Stallone made one happen.

And what about the much-touted Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Willis scene? I wasn't that impressed with it. Too tongue-in-cheek for me. But Stallone's comment when Schwarzenegger was leaving brought a laugh from the audience.

All in all, it was a lot of fun to see guys my age kicking some ass. I'm almost inspired enough to start hitting the weights.


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