The Skinny (No spoilers)
“Expendable” is a perfect description of what the director must have thought of this script. Every sentence that doesn’t exit the mouth of Mel Gibson or Antonio Banderas is just like a drunk freshman at the bar: a god damn train wreck. However, if you 1) are ok with ear-melting dialog and 2) wanna see a tank-load of fistfights, gun play, and explosions, you might just find this film enjoyable. Sometimes you just need an old school, dumb as dirt action movie.
You have seen this movie’s trailers. The movie is exactly what you imagine it is like. Unfortunately, there are also no real surprises. Pity. Wait for it on Netflix and then watch only while having a boring Saturday afternoon.
The Deep Dive (Spoilers)
Wait, Matt Damon is my generation’s Rambo? Matt. Freaking Damon?!?
First of all, I present the names and ages of those who play the main characters:
Jason Statham— 47
Harrison Ford— 72
Arnold Schwarzenegger— 67
Mel Gibson— 58
Wesley Snipes— 52
Dolph Lundgren— 56
Randy Couture— 51
Terry Crews— 46
Kelsey Grammer— 59
As you read the review, ask yourself this: Why are almost all of our best action stars capable of receiving AARP benefits? (We will get to that later.)
This movie is the visual manifestation of the line “We’re getting’ too old for this shit.” After discovering that a former Expendable founder turned arms dealer (William Wallace look-a-like Mel Gibson) is still alive, the team sets off on a world wind adventure to kill him. Simple enough. The movie’s drama comes from the team realizing that “runnin’ and gunnin’” is a young man’s game, and Demolition Man Sylvester Stallone decides unilaterally that it’s time for the old guys to retire. In their place, Stallone recruits a group of 20-somethings to take down Gibson. The kids are eventually captured, with Stallone and the older folks reuniting to rescue the newbies. Oh, and then the whole Expendables crew has to fight an actual Army to survive.
The first half of the movie is not good, even by “stupid action movie” standards. The acting is horrid. The script is garbage. There are 1 ½ decent action pieces but there is way too much talking in-between. The second half is not that bad, and has an extremely long action sequence that makes the price of admission almost worth it. As you can probably guess, there isn’t much talking in this half of the movie.
Two elements that I surprisingly loved from the movie were Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas. Mel Gibson reminds us why he was so sought after in the 90’s and early 2000’s. He is a damn good bad guy. He delivers, normally stupid lines, with force and gusto. Banderas plays the manic, talkative funny guy and was great at it! I’m guessing a lot of the performance was ad-lib. Nevertheless, the way he portrayed the character was hilarious. Annoying, but hilarious.
One issue brought up in the movie was the difference between old school tactics and Gen Y tactics. Where Arnold and Co. use to walk right up to the front door and start shooting, folks in our era are hacking into the mainframe, using a virus to disable the opposition’s guns, or some other blah-de-blah that involves an iPhone. What ever happened to “Shoot first, and check email later?” Whatever happened to real action stars? Sure, if you wanna see a guy in a cape with a really big hammer hit a big green monster, Hollywood has you covered. But whatever happened to the blue collar cop/soldier just taking it to the bad guys with a gun and a few grenades? Why hasn’t Hollywood provided Gen Y with any new action stars, that DON’T wear costumes, since the 90’s?
For as bad as it was, I actually enjoyed watching an old school action movie. It reminded me of the films I watched as a kid on HBO when my parents thought I was sleeping. Since Mission Impossible, action has gotten way too sleek. Way too Wired magazine. Way too…geeky. If you fall into my camp, take a chance on this film. You won’t like it as a movie, but it will remind you of a time when action stars acted like action stars. If you don’t fall into my camp, do not see this film.