Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Expendables

My son, oldest grandson, and nephew -- visiting from San Francisco with his lovely wife for a few days -- and I went yesterday to see The Expendables.

Boys going to see a man-flick. I was really looking forward to this one.

No two ways to say it: the movie wasn't very good. Paint-by-numbers, no surprises, nothing really memorable, give it a "C."

I had high hopes for it; Stallone wrote and directed it, and he's a good writer -- he wrote Rocky, recall. But if it hadn't had all the old action stars in it, it would have been totally forgettable. Well, except that I don't need to shoot anybody nor blow anything up for a while, having gotten my fill of that ...

What worked did so because the audience knew the actors and allowed a certain amount of warm nostalgia to make us grin. Wow, look what good shape he's in! How cool is it that a guy older than I am can roll around and smack into walls like that! (And get a broken vertebrae in the doing of it ...)

There they were, including cameos from Schwarzenegger and Willis, with Eric Roberts as the bad guy, and a couple token good-looking hot girls. It didn't lack for testosterone, and they blew through a truckload of ammo and bombs, but there wasn't any sense of joy or surprise: Action scene, ass-kicking, and here's the really clever dialog showing how cool everybody is -- can I get a rim-shot -- baddah boom! Over and over, bigger and bigger.

Yeah, there were some references to movies we knew. A few funny lines. And yes, the old guys still having a little life in them was a good premise, but they really didn't make use of it. I didn't expect Seven Samurai, but it could have been Butch and Sundance, or even The Wild Bunch; instead, it was Generic A-Team. No depth, no real character development. No sex, and the only twist they delivered made you shake your head at the end and go, "Aw, crap! Spare me!"

I wanted to see it and I did. And anybody who grew up with these guys onscreen will want to see it, and should -- just don't expect anything special.

Too bad.


Brett said...

I totally agree. He wasted a lot of talent on a mediocre script. It had the potential for so much more. As a sort of swan song for a lot of great butt kicking stars of the last generation, it was a let down. Sure, they killed, maimed, blew up, cut down and generally caused mass chaos but I didn't see much flair to any of it. It seemed to muffle most of the individual character of these iconic action stars. If it had been relative newcomers in the roles, it would be just another shoot-em up movie.

Justin said...

I saw it opening weekend, and really enjoyed it. It kept up a pace where I didn't have much time to consider how implausible much of it was. I thought each actor did their job to make their characters at least not generic. I've never seen any of the Rambo movies, so maybe my tolerance for kill-everything flicks is higher due to lack of exposure. I grinned at every decapitation; they sure made blades out to be bad-ass.

I found it funny how they use someone like Jet Li as "short Asian guy," or WWE legend Steve Austin as "#1 henchman." That's a budget and Sly's influence for ya.

Saw Scott Pilgrim that same day. Also had a lot of fun there. Very video-gamy in terms of presentation and fight scenes (in a good way). Also had a quirky story and a definite sweet quality.

Dan Moran said...

I was looking forward to this quite a lot -- saw the reviews and ended up not going. I guess I'll catch it on DVD.