People always fondly remember their childhood heroes. Many young men have watched stars like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis growing up, which helped shape the expectations of action movies to come. Director Sylvester Stallone had a lot to prove when he decided to create the Expendables. He wanted to show that action movies could still be testosterone-filled, adrenaline-pumping experiences and that he still had what it took to play a badass. He called in a number of action film stars to help him see this goal out, covering almost every base possible. Was this going to be the movie action fans were looking for, or was it simply trying to hide the fact that these men are well past their prime?
The story to the Expendables is nothing too terribly unique. At the same time, it’s not something that requires a lot of thought either. You know who the bad guy is and what needs to be done in order to take him down. There is some interesting plot development, but it would really be a stretch to call it a plot twist. However, the plot never gets in the way and lets the audience sit back and enjoy what they really want to see, the action.
“I’m getting a text…”
Truthfully speaking, I think that character development is the strongest aspect of the Expendables. There is a sense of comradery that is immediately apparent when the characters start interacting with one another. There are a lot of jabs and jokes at the expense of others, but this is all done in an entertaining manner. You truly get a feel for how each character is and who they are, even if some shine more than others. Some even have a past that haunt them every day of their lives. I believe that it’s this realistic bond between the characters that makes the action sequences that much better and meaningful.
There are two things an action movie can have: martial arts or guns and explosions. The Expendables does its best to blend these two types of action together, and the result is decent. A lot of people get shot up and plenty of things (and people) explode. In other words, those that love bloody shoot ‘em ups won’t be disappointed at all.
Corey Yuen does a decent job making everyone look good for fights, but the shaky-cam is back to rear its ugly head. I wondered why a man who has made so many action films would resort to this technique, and I’m still not too sure. He could be trying to cater to a more modern audience, or he may be trying to cover the fact that this movie has a bunch of old men fighting each other. Things only got really confusing near the end, when there are 3 separate fights going on, yet the action seems to switch between them whenever Stallone saw fit. This can be disorienting and takes a few seconds for the audience to realize which fight they are watching.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
Sylvester Stallone took a huge risk when he decided to create the Expendables. Trying to get all of these stars onboard while giving them all an appropriate amount of screentime is no easy task. Most action fans will be more than happy with the result that has come from the Expendables. While I found myself wanting more from the choreography and martial arts I still had a good time watching the film.
It’s bond that the characters have that really brings the film to life, and I think it would have been a disaster if the writing wasn’t handled so well. As it stands, the Expendables is a very solid action film that deserves a watch, but maybe not something that martial arts fans will come back to time and time again.
*Also, I should point out I watched the original version. I’ve heard the director’s cut has longer fight sequences, like Jet Li vs. Dolph Lundgren, but I have not seen them.