The Expendables, Or Let's Blow Everything Up and then Set it On Fire!

Blasting onto our screens, in a wave of 80s movie nostalgia, comes the action ensemble to end all action ensembles. I am of course talking about The Expendables, the film that has brought together the likes of Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Rourke, Willis and Schwarzenegger; frankly it’s hard not to get excited by that combination. So for all that promise was the film the dumb, loud, explosive, action fest that we had been praying for? Well the answer is yes, and then some.

The plot is not the film’s strongest point, but then this is an action film, where the plot is nearly always secondary. The only problem is the film sometimes tries to have it both ways and maybe indulges in more of a story than is necessary. Some parts of exposition could easily have been dropped for longer action sequences, much in the same way as Snakes on a Plane did to great effect. However, this problem does not completely ruin the film, and also allows us some laughably cheesy character development scenes; like for instance where we get to see a touching man to man discussion about women between Stallone and Rourke, and a glimpse into Statham’s love life.

A major problem with the film is that Stallone quite frankly doesn’t do a great job of directing, and seems to over rely on close-ups and shaky-cam, which can make watching this movie a little bit disorientating at times. However, whilst the photography isn’t amazing, the action scenes more than make up for the bad camerawork. The last fifteen minutes of the Expendables are truly spectacular, as literally EVERYTHING seems to get blown up, or set on fire.

The cast are an excellent blend of old-school and new school action stars, with the likes of Statham and Li bringing an element of youth – and in the case of the latter kung-fu kicking awesomeness - to the old grizzled oldies like Stallone and Lundgren. A special mention also should go to Eric Roberts who plays a corrupt businessman so obviously evil that he must have gained an award from the Lex Luthor finishing school of villainy. Robert’s character seems to hover in the background, demanding people be killed for interfering or threatening his financial gain (the two aren’t mutually exclusive), or simply enjoying a nice cup of tea whilst the female love-interest of the film is waterboarded in front of him. Another mention also goes to Steve Austin (of WWE fame) who plays the human equivalent of a pit-bull attack dog, who comes across as pretty-much indestructible for much of the film.

In many ways much of the film seems to overflow with testosterone; from the opening sequence where we see The Expendables rolling into a tattoo parlour on their Harleys, whilst a bit of heavy metal plays in the background you can just tell what sort of a ride this is going to be. Aside from that there are big impossibly powerful guns, and attractive ladies to save. It’s like a teenage boy’s dream.

I suppose all in all this film makes the ideal tonic for men, after offensively girly films like Sex and the City 2, swept the box office earlier this year. In fact in many ways this is the Sex and the City 2 of male films, but of course not as rubbish as Sex and the City 2 was to most people. True this film is not the perfect action film, after all a perfect cast isn’t everything, but it’s a damn good try.

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