Sylvester Stallone directs a huge cast of action stars in his newest film “The Expendables”, including the likes of Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Stallone himself, and in brief cameos, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. The concept of this film is that it pays tribute to 1980’s action movies, in that it puts emphasis on masculinity, muscles and explosions, as opposed to modern emphasis on computer-generated effects. They play a group of mercenaries nicknamed “the Expendables”, who are hired by the CIA to travel to a South American island and fight off a (naturally, evil) dictatorship that’s presiding over the island.
Now first, let me say before all else that I am a large fan of 1980’s action movies, and admire the tone that the film attempts to set, “The Expendables” is by and large a failure at everything it attempts to do. In terms of being a coherent story we care about, the film fails, although to be fair the film doesn’t really hinge on such a thing. The film’s point is to get several large stars together, and string together several huge action set pieces centered around these stars.
Firstly, the action is really kind of terrible. Most of the sequences are rendered almost incomprehensible by the shaky camerawork, and when I could actually make out what’s happening, I was disappointed by just how uninspired the sequences were. I mean seriously, a film that doesn’t satisfy on even such an elementary level deserves to be labeled as a failure.
There literally could have been an entirely different cast, and the film probably would have played out the same way, that’s how little everyone brings to their roles. Everyone acts as a caricature of themselves. Even the great Mickey Rourke is reduced to a thankless role as a tattoo artist.
Take for example, the scene with Stallone, and in cameo appearances, Bruce Willis and Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger himself. This scene, which has been hyped for months as the symbolic converging of action cinema demigods, is little more than the three stars standing in a circle, swearing incessantly, and the scene abruptly ending.
I suppose this scene is a fantastic representation of what “The Expendables” is: Awesome in concept, but when it comes to the execution, meandering, dull, and most unforgivably of all: Underwhelming.