In a blaze of
sadistic glory, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) annihilates a wharf full
of enemy soldiers while riding shotgun (certainly not in the traditional
sense) alongside Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) in an old-school
seaplane. As the wharf is blown to smithereens in the background, Barney
congratulates Lee for his efforts, to which Lee replies, ďThatís a
Why yes, Mr. Statham,
that is a statement. Iím still unsure as to why Stallone and co-writer
Dave Callaham felt the need to point that out. Yes, I realise Stallone
never intended for his film to be nominated for screenplay or directing
Oscars, and Iím not about to rip apart The Expendables for its
lack of plot, absence of any character development or its cringe-worthy
script. Not much anyway. We all know exactly why this movie was made Ė
to bring together a bunch of beefed-up action heroes (read: washed-up)
to fight, kill, flex their disturbingly gargantuan muscles and deliver
lines that will have you laughing for longer than originally intended.
Oh, and to blow stuff up.
The stench of testosterone is overwhelming in Stalloneís
These were my only
expectations for this film, but unfortunately it even managed to fall
short in the action department. The killing and maiming is too
repetitive and thereís an obvious lack of tense action sequences; itís
just a bunch of guys shooting at another bunch of guys. But there are
some great set pieces, especially when Jet Li and Stallone manage to
ward off an army of assassins in a breathtaking chase through the
streets, and there are enough epic explosions in the last act to satiate
the hunger of any action fan.
As an ensemble, Statham
and Mickey Rourke are the only ones who show any hint of charisma.
Rourkeís Tool is actually quite likeable and the only emotionally
developed character (to the extent he can be with this kind of film).
The only description of Stallone I can muster is that a sad and demented
clown. Iím not sure if Stallone has had any cosmetic surgery, but if
thatís the result he needs to get his money back. Steve Austin was never
known for his acting, but he does a hell of a job standing in the
shadows and nodding at random intervals when heís not beating women
senseless. Jet Li is wasted, simply a target for an archaic and
(apparently) humorous racial stereotype. His name is Yin Yang. Enough
said. The talented Charisma Carpenter (Buffy, Angel) would have
done better in a LíOreal advertisement. Her sub-plot is so sub that it
might as well not be there, though it did lead to an amusing sequence in
which Stathamís Lee single-handedly takes out a bunch of neighbourhood
Sly Stallone holds on for dear life to his last shred of dignity
Stallone, who also
co-wrote and directed, would have had a fun time shooting this film. He
was given $80 million to gather a bunch of his friends together to punch
the shit out of each other. That is the extent of their roles. Arnold
Schwarzeneggerís one-scene cameo is overly self-indulgent while Bruce
Willisí Mr. Church (who speaks to Stallone in a church) contributes
practically nothing. Willis looks as if heís about to burst into fits of
laughter with every line he delivers and I wouldnít blame him.
I left The
Expendables having no recollection of the names of any characters
and was too busy laughing to remember the reason for all the slaughter.
To grant Stallone his due, he certainly knows how to shoot great
hand-to-hand combat and though this didnít entertain me the way it
should have, itís sure to be an enjoyable experience for many.