The Expendables: Review

17 September 2010

Written by: Jean Kemshal-Bell

It would be easy enough to walk into The Expendables not expecting much and even easier to walk out disappointed.  The story is flimsy, the violence excessive and it features aged action heroes.

But I loved this movie!  Written, directed and starring Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables shows a group of aging ‘good guys’  saving the world from crime with their own brand of justice.

For action aficionados, the film has an impressive cast, including a cameo from the ultimate fighting machine, The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The rest of the cast is every bit as dynamic, featuring Jet Li, Jason Statham, Steve Austin, Randy Couture and Mickey Rourke. Even Bruce Willis gets involved for a minor role and though his character is no John McClane, he is still the ultimate show stealer.  Also keep an eye out for Rocky III bad guy, Dolph Lundgren, reuniting with Stallone to play his nostalgic antagonist once again.

Superficially, The Expendables has all the makings of a giant flop.  The dialogue is cheesy and predictable and the plot is so non-sensical it borders on incoherent.  It’s pretty standard: small Latino country gets invaded by its own government.  Which country?  Doesn’t matter.  Sexy political chick too patriotic to leave country and run away with Stallone?  Check.  Cringe worthy one-liners and shoulder slapping wisecracks among the assassin buddies?  Check and check!

Stallone is also nearly 40 years older than love interest, Giselle Itie. But try not to look that closely, it does spoil the romance a little.

Yet despite all its flaws, what I found so irresistible about this movie, or maybe because of them, is how blatantly it pays tribute to the dominant stylings of 1980s and 1990s action movies.  It’s no Die Hard or Predator or even Rambo, but bless it, it tries. It’s all about mate-ship in the face of danger.  All these arguably has-been men have come together to relive their glory days with pizzazz, bad jokes and an undeniable hint of homoeroticism.  There is the biggest, beefiest black guy whose ‘gun’ is much larger and remarkably more effective than anyone else’s.

It all adds to the flavour of this unreasonably explosive and unjustifiably testosteroned movie.  If nothing else, it’s great to see Arnie out and about again.

Full of outrageous stunts, martial arts and car chases, The Expendables is no date movie, but you will love it for everything it is—and what it’s not.

Corina Thorose is completing a Graduate Diploma of Journalism at La Trobe University.