This movie. This f'in movie here. Look at it! It's the cinematic equivalent of that guy who wears too much Brut, but he can get away with it because he's awesome. You know the guy, all swagger, no style. But there's just something about him that lets him get away with it.
The Expendables is a film where the sum of its parts is not greater than the whole, nor is the whole equal to even a fraction of its parts. It boasts a superstar action cast, and wastes 70 percent of their screen presence.
Stallone, though a bit too surgically enhanced in the face, is still able to convey that everyman/toughguy persona to perfection. He's not afraid to show his age here, running with a gait that betrays old knees and stiff joints. He attempts to have a character grappling with the consequences of his actions (a bit tacked-on, but he gets an A for effort).
The movie does everything it's supposed to do.The short list of awesome action cliches (mild spoilers below):
Bad car logic:
A car chase through the streets of New Orleans comes to an end inside of a warehouse. How does Stallone get his truck into the warehouse? Through a plate glass window, of course. do we see this window coming? No. Do we know that Stallone's truck is headed up a ramp? No. We are to trust that the awesome force of Stallone causes the truck to fly through the window somehow (but at least we don't know what floor it's on...)
Bad villain logic:
The bad guy's plans all go to hell, so he tries to make his escape. He runs away with the girl as his hostage, presumably to have a shield of some sort, a bargaining chip. Here's the problem: Her dad is the leader of the nation and he just got killed. So did all of his army. Stallone's coming for vengeance, so the bad guy's dying either way. Why does he drag her through the jungle, slowing himself down? Why not shoot her and get away faster?
Odd fight logic:
Dolph Lundgren has Jet Li dead to rights, ready to kill him, but of course pauses just long enough to let Stallone shoot him. There's a brief "TELL ME THE PLAN SO YOU CAN DIE WITH HONOR" dialogue exchange, and we're led to believe that Dolph dies in the warehouse. (odd sequel logic prevents this at the end).
My favorite part of this movie is that Mickey Rourke seems to be in a completely different film, one about a psychologically tortured ex-mercenary who's trying to start over in a tattoo shop in the middle of nowhere. Every once in a while, Stallone's film comes barreling through, and they interact, but I honestly wanted to spend more time seeing what Rourke was up to.
On a fanboy sidenote, it was pretty cool to see Randy Couture go one-on-one with Stone Cold Steve Austin, but any MMA fan worth their salt noticed the Nogueira brothers early on in the film as bad guys. Surely they could have worked a two-on-one fight scene in there. Missed opportunity.
As goofy as the film is, it just works. it's just a bunch of past-their-prime and/or B-list action stars saying "hey, remember how fun these kinds of films were?" And it is fun. From the bad laser-sights on the rifles that kick off the film to Terry Crews' hilariously over-the-top automatic shotgun/nuclear death dealer the action is non-stop, the explosions are loud, the fights are down and dirty.
You can't ask for more out of a film like this...but a little extra character development would be nice.
The vibe of the film is best summed up in the glorious meeting between Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Schwarzenegger. They trade barbs, posture and menace each other, but you can see the "can you believe we're still doing this?" glee in their eyes.
Arnold's going to be out of office soon, so if they can get him into the sequel, I'll be more than willing to go for one more last hurrah with these guys.