PORTLAND, Oregon, U.S.A. – Movies that try to pull together an amazing cast of heavyweights often seem to fail. The movie Be Cool, a kind of sequel to Get Shorty, had a grocery list of names that had to have casting directors drooling. It also ended up being one of the worst films I have ever seen.
So it was with apprehension that I saw The Expendables. I was looking forward to it in the respect that it had been a very long time since I had seen a straight out action flick.
The market has been still for some time for these types of features, but I was very nervous that the producers would get Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, and numerous others into the same room . . . and then not know what to do.
But surprisingly enough, from a strictly entertainment value standpoint, they pulled it off.
Let’s start by saying that if you do not like extremely violent, machismo action flicks, this is in no way for you.
I haven’t seen this much blood on screen for a while, and then, it was either in your standard horror, or a Kill Bill comic book extravaganza of violence. The Expendables is not stylized in such a way. It is just violent, the old-fashioned way that they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s, before every action character had apparently spent half their lives in a dojo.
The Expendables does have redeeming qualities and there are points to the story. The assignment that the film is based around is not taken for money, but for the noble idea of writing the wrongs of a tyrannical dictator, or, rather, his puppet masters.
Slid into the violence is the overall message that a life of death and destruction is really no life at all.
That being said, brace yourself for some carnage.
There are explosions, flying body parts, decimating shotgun attacks, and more throwing knives than I think I’ve ever seen. There are fist-to-fist melees that make you ooh and ahh with every punch, and, if you start to tire from hunks of muscled steel beating the crap out of each other, you have Li throwing in a spinning kick for good measure.
Li, who I was very excited to see in a new action movie, actually ended up being more of a comic relief character than a vicious fighter, but there is no doubt that the seasoned action film star can still move.
So, too, can Stallone.
I’ve seen neither the new Rambo or Rocky Balboa, so maybe I am behind the times on the man’s physical fitness, but if The Expendables is any indication, he can still taking a beating, and give one right back in return.
Stallone also directed the movie, which always puts props in my book. To star in a movie this size and direct it has to be at least a little trying.
Statham displays in full force why he is in almost every action movie of recent years, and Randy Couture has a very satisfying fight against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’ of World Wrestling Entertainment fame, as well as a very comic play on his hideous “cauliflower ears.”
Rourke’s acting, though, takes the cake. Everyone else in the film has the bare minimum of facial expressions to work with, but Rourke, the one character who has given up on the life of death, has a monologue both well written and perfectly delivered.
It easily shows why he has climbed back up on top of Hollywood, after years of exile.
The scene, which is brief, has Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Stallone in the same room. It’ll make any action flick aficionado quiver with excitement, and is guaranteed to make you at least smile as both Stallone and Schwarzenegger take little jabs at one another.
If there was one thing missing from this film it would be to at least see dear Arnold involved in at least one battle. But complaining about a lack of violence in this film seems ridiculous, as there was more than enough to go around.
The Expendables is an honest-to-God action flick. It’s exactly what you expect it to be – bloody, violent, and brutal, with an underlying moral that can easily be forgotten.
You don’t have to wait long for the next bout of violence, since it seems the film was set on a timer for five-minute intervals. Beyond that, there’s gunfire.
If you are looking for something more than brutality, don’t see this movie. Something more is there, but that’s all it is; there. If you took it out, the film wouldn’t be too different.
That being said, if you have found yourself at the theatre lately wondering where the good, old-fashioned action flick has gone, go see The Expendables.
It’s exactly what you are looking for.
Talon Bronson is a Reporter from Oregon for Youth Journalism International.