Friday, February 4, 2011

Canon Movie Review: The Expendables

Last week, I was discussing the Oscar Nominations with a few people when it occurred to me that I hadn't watched any of the movies that were nominated. Furthermore, I realized that I haven't seen any movie that came out in theaters in 2010. I'm not sure why this happened, as while it is true that I really don't watch a whole lot of movies, I usually go to the theater a couple times a year to check out some flick. Heck, I even saw Van Helsing when it came out in theaters, and that movie wasn't too good, let me tell you. But, here we are. So, in an attempt to rectify that, I decided to watch The Expendables. Sure, it wasn't nominated for any Oscars, but hey, it's a start.

The Expendables is a 2010 film directed by and starring Sylvester Stallone. The movie also stars Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, and Bruce Willis. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Segal were also offered roles in the film, but both men declined for different reasons. Wesley Snipes was also offered a role in the film, but due to legal troubles he was unable to star. Other than that, pretty much every big time action movie star of the past 30 years, with the glaring exception of Chuck Norris, was in this film. The plot of The Expendables is rather simple, as a group of mercenaries called The Expendables led by Barney Ross (Stallone) take up a mission to overthrow a dictator of a fictional island and the ex-CIA Agent (Roberts) who has pretty much taken over the island and its illegal drug trade. So, of course, they go to the island and blow lots of stuff up. A few notes about this film, and yes there will be SPOILERS, so read carefully:

- When watching The Expendables, I expected a lot of action-scenes full of fighting and gunfire and explosions, and while there was a lot of it, the action shots itself were not well shot at all. For one, a lot of the scenes were way too close up on the actors, so you couldn't tell which Expendable was doing what half the time. Furthermore, Stallone for some reason used the camera shaking technique a lot, particularly in the climatic scene, which I must admit I am not a fan of at all. I guess he did it to add some sort of realism to the fight, but damn it I wasn't watching this film for realism, I was watching it in the hopes of getting a well-shot action sequence, and I got neither.

- The acting in The Expendables is a mixed bag. Li is hardly in the film and he's either doing martial arts scenes or complaining about money (I wonder if he did that behind the scenes), Crews and Couture are one-note members of the Expendables, although Crews does better in his role. Stone Cold plays Stone Cold as Eric Roberts's enforcer, while Stallone and Lundgren at least try to act, but their performances are average at best. Statham is rather believable as the knife throwing expert Lee Christmas (despite the dumb name). Sure, he's given a side story with Charisma Carpenter that goes nowhere, but he still does well in those scenes. Rourke is easily the best actor in the whole film, and his scene where he reminisces about a girl he didn't save in Bosnia is the most emotional scene in the film, even if Stallone almost ruined it by staring blankly for a minute before disappearing off the screen.

- The Expendables apparently have an unlimited budget. I mean, they have their own plane complete with two big guns that fire hundreds of rounds a minute, and they also have tons of grenades, remote explosives, more guns than an NRA convention, motorcycles, and Ross drives around in a souped up 55 'Ford pick up. At one point, I thought to myself 'I wonder what their overhead is?' A dumb thing to think I know, but still.

- The Expendables are also hella tough, as despite fighting an entire army loaded to the teeth they hardly suffer a scratch. The only time any of the Expendables are in real danger is when they're fighting each other, or when Stallone's character must take on Steve Austin. This total domination of their opponents kind of takes away from the danger of the film, as it's pretty clear from the beginning what's going to happen at the end since nobody is made out to be vulnerable.

- Filming for The Expendables was somewhat hard on the actors, as Sylvester Stallone actually broke his neck during his fight scene with Austin. Speaking of Austin, he also suffered many injuries, and according to Stallone nearly lost a leg when an explosion went off too close to him. I'm also surprised that Randy Couture didn't burn himself considering he punched a man that was ON FIRE, although it was probably a special effect.

Overall, The Expendables was billed as a throwback to the big-time action films of the 1980s with big guns and lots of explosions. While it had some of that, The Expendables just seemed to be missing something that those films had. Stallone tries to give this film some sort of deeper meaning, but it just doesn't come across too well, and the action scenes were a mixed bag at best due to some poor cinematography. There are a lot worse way to spend an hour and a half, but while The Expendables is a decent time-killer where you don't have to think too much, I was hoping for a little more. Overall, I'll give it a 4.75 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you any ideas for future posts, or thoughts about this post, than either leave a comment on the blog or send them to me at e-mail at

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