Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Expendables

Are you tired of romantic comedies, and computer animated kids' films? Have you have it with sparkly vampires and talking dogs and cats? Do you want a manly film full of manly men blowing up manly things? Then you may just want to check out “The Expendables”.

The Expendables are a team of highly trained mercenaries who seem to have one real mission in life; blow things up. Led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone: “Rambo”, “Rocky”), the team is offered a job by the cagey Mister Church (Bruce Willis: “Die Hard”, “Cop Out”) to go to the small island nation of Velina and assassinate their corrupt dictator, General Garza (David Zayas: “Dexter”, “Oz”) and whoever is helping to keep him in power. Of course nothing can be all that simple, right?

Following Ross into battle are Lee Christmas (Jason Statham: “The Transporter”, “Crank”), Ying Yang (Jet Li: “War”, “Hero”), Toll Road (UFC fighter, Randy Couture), and Hale Caeser (NFL player, Terry Crews). Rounding out the cast are Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, all in supporting roles. For a simple old-school guns, knives, and explosions action film this is a huge cast.

Of course with such a large cast and the limitations of how long an action movie can be you are faced with the issue of finding enough stuff for everyone to do. This is where the movie falls short. Statham and Stallone do the majority of the heavy lifting for the heroes, which would be fine if they were the only two stars in the film. Unfortunately Li ends up being sadly underused, and Crews and Couture only have a handful of lines before the climactic battle begins. As it turns out it is possible to have too much awesome in one film.

Finding enough screen time for everyone is not the movie's biggest failing though. For me the worst part of this film was the camera work. During the fights scenes especially, we are hit with lots of quick cuts and shaky camera, and there are moments where I had trouble who was fighting who (is that Statham or Couture fighting with Austin? I had to ask my wife to be sure). Do not sit in the front row of the theater for this movie if you are susceptible to motion sickness.

Some may criticize the film for having a weak plot, and yes, I suppose it does. To me the plot feels like something you might find in a video game; merely an excuse to create a lot of awesome action sequences, but then again when is the last time you watched a true action movie for the plot? “The Transporter”? “Shoot 'Em Up”? “Crank”? “Die Hard”? No, this movie is not going to win any awards for its story, but really, who cares? If you are watching this film you are watching to see well choreographed fights punctuated by snarky one liners and things blowing up,

Lots of explosions, cursing, and a body count to rival the “Star Wars” trilogy, “The Expendables” is a violent, loud celebration of testosterone and explosions. It's an action film for people who like action films. I had really high expectations for this film (bordering on Phantom Menace Syndrome if I am being honest), and this film did fall short, but it was still a fun film with plenty of gags to laugh at and injuries to wince at.

If you like violent, manly films, then this movie is worth seeing in the theater for the fun of laughing, groaning, and cheering along with the rest of the audience (yes, people were actually cheering during parts of the film) when “The Expendables” opens on August thirteenth.. If violence is not your bag, and you want sensitivity and a message in your movie, well there's always “Eat Pray Love”.

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