Friday, August 27, 2010

‘The Expendables’ – throw away throw back to the 80’s

Sylvester Stallone is back to the action game in rare form with ‘The Expendables’ – an unabashed throwback to every 80’s action movie that ever chopped, shot or grunted its way across your local Cineplex screen. Stallone assembles nearly the perfect dream team of action stars that includes: Jason Statham (The Transporter), Jet Li (Fearless), Dolph Lundgren (obscurity), Terry Crews (Middle Men), Randy Couture (ex wrestler), Steve Austin (ex wrestler), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler – get it?) and a very inspired pair of cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis in scene stealing uncredited roles.

With all of this fire power it is too bad the film never really lives up to its potential. The saving grace is that once it does final kick it into ass-kicking gear, the film becomes ‘Rambo’ and ‘Commando’ on steroids (sorry Sly, Humantrope) and the bullets fly as fast as the wise cracks as the team attempts to save the girl and the day. Stallone is Barney Ross, the head bad ass in a mini army of tough guys who take on missions that are considered suicide runs. Ross is offered a job by one of the best bad boys, Mr Church (Willis) to take on a military government that has taken over a small tropical island (ala Cuba). Don’t let that part of the story fool you – that part of the story is quickly tossed aside as it turns into a rescue the girl from the evil clutches of an ex CIA, wannabe drug lord (Eric Roberts) – which, in reality, is just an excuse to increase the body count and blown stuff up!

Stallone relives his glory days as an action star by going all guns blazing out, ripe with explosions and enough fight scenes to fill several movies – ‘The Expendables’ attempts to take us back to those days before CGI and 3D. Even Stallone’s script is as weak as those movies were back then. Opting for explosions rather than dialogue and an impressive body count and action scenes to cover up the fact that none of these guys can act! Most scenes are shot tightly so that we cannot see if it is really Stallone or not; but then again the guy is 65 – I hope I look that good and move that fast at 65!

Both Stallone and Lundgren are passable in their roles – just what you would expect from them both. Eric Roberts has a grand time playing the bad guy here and chews up most scenes he is in. The best parts, however, are left to Jason Statham (totally under rated as an actor) and Mickey Rourke, who has a minor bit part. But there are plenty of great, fun moments in this film that save it from being a direct to DVD clunker; possibly one of Stallone’s last actually, unless he caves into an all CGI film – then he might be able to move around a bit better! This is a fun, 3 star effort that should be enjoyed for what it is – a pure popcorn action fest.

My Redbox pick is keeping it in the action genre, ‘Repo Men’ stars Jude Law (yes, Jude Law CAN be an action star) and Forest Whitaker as best friends and Repo Men – but they aren’t coming after your car – they are after that kidney you just had transplanted and missed the payments on! A futuristic thriller that is an unabashed comment on our current spend, spend society, ‘Repo Men’ delivers on all fronts. This 3 ½ star effort is well worth the $1.00 at your local Redbox!

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