Monday, August 30, 2010

The Expendables Review

If Inception was the most anticipated smartest film of the summer, then The Expendables was surely the dumbest most anticipated film of the summer; and was another film I saw the day after release but didn't review till now, thus continuing my "Week of Catching Up". Don't expect much...

There really isn't anything to say about this film's story or what it's about, because if you're like me and pretty much everyone else that went to see this movie, you're going into this expecting to see the greatest action movie cast of all time. You've got Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture (he puts an entire gym on your door, princess.), Mickey Rourke, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, and cameos from Bruce Willis and the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first film role in like... ever. With a group like that, you can't help but at least see what the hell happens when you get them together. If only Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris were in this, then it would've been perfect.

But if you do care about story, in this case what's wrong with you? But seriously, The Expendables are a group of hitmen? mercenaries? bounty hunters? bikers? pirates? To be honest, I was never really sure, but you're supposed to assume they're the good guys. And they go to some fictional dictatorship island and try and overthrow the corrupt government led by Eric Roberts (as The Master, derpderp). Basically though, the story was really second to none, and it was really about the characters and the action.

About that action... for a big budget action movie that was supposed to be an homage to the over the top action films of the 80s and 90s, there was a heck of a lot of CG'd blood and effects, and it really detracted from the feeling the movie was aiming for. For instance, the opening scene has the gang using laser sights on a group of Somali pirates, and you can clearly see that the lasers are a cheap After Effects effect, as they're opaque and much thicker than a laser should be; and that's right before a dude gets separated from his lower half, which looked to be done with traditional effects (plus CGI blood of course). It was just really disappointing because you'd think if they're going to go all out on an action movie at least use fake blood; computer blood just looks stupid and costs more.

Speaking of costs though: the cast. It's more than possible that the film's entire budget was spent on the cast, but that still won't excuse CGI blood. Despite the ensemble cast advertising, the film is really about Stallone and Statham's characters, with Jet Li getting a much lower third seat (short jokes). Crews and Couture's character are basically nonexistent for a bulk of the film, and Dolph Lundgren gets more screen-time than I expected.

The weirder part of the film was definitely Mickey Rourke's character, which looks like he filmed his parts during Iron Man 2's off time. What was weird was that in this incredibly over the top action film that had no brains whatsoever, Rourke does actual acting as the team's 'wise man' of sorts, and actually has a nearly 5 minute monologue about some girl killing herself. And, touching as it may be, it's an incredibly out of place scene for this movie and it's just like, "C'mon Mickey, what're you doing actually acting here? Blow some shit up like the other guys!". Then there's the Willis and Schwarzenegger scene, which if you saw the commercials for the film, that's all there is to see of the two of them; it was an amusing scene, but was spoiled very early on in promotions. So, as to why Willis even gets last billing is beyond me, but I had the same issue with Michael Caine in Inception.

Of course, I went into this film not expecting much substance in terms of acting or storytelling, so there wasn't anything to really be disappointed about there. But I was really turned off by the use of CGI blood, because it just makes the entire experience feel extremely cheap. It was great that all of the actors each got their moment in the spotlight, some more so than others, but I was a bit bothered that they never really felt like a team as the promotional materials would suggest. Watch this one with a group for an enjoyable time, but just don't expect in terms of substance (Mickey Rourke's moment aside).

Overall Score: 6.8/10

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