First off, I want to say that I admire Stallone’s vision with The Expendables. He made this movie for a specific group of people (those who enjoy violent, gritty action a la the 80s) without really giving a damn about the other facets of the wider movie-going audience. He set out to film a throwback to those macho films which made action stars like himself massive celebrities.
So did he succeed? I have no doubt that many people out there who have been wishing for a return to form for action films will enjoy this immensely. Why? Because the action here is everything you hope it to be. It is hard-edged and unforgiving and really does feel like and old Schwarzenegger or Rambo movie.
There is a lot of innovation in the action scenes (aside from one run-of-the-mill, choppy car chase) where small additions are made which make the fights stand out, such as a gory kick to the head and a comedic use of a ‘low clearance’ sign. Stallone recognizes that these small touches can really add to the excitement.
I appreciate the stunt work and non-CG effects work that goes into this movie. Its a naturalistic approach which is quite refreshing in this computer-obsessed industry. I also like how each character brings their own personality tot he way their character fights; Stallone is as more old-school get it done attitude, Statham is more slick, Jet Li uses quick acrobatics, Austin and Coulture fight with their wrestling backgrounds.
So the action is good but the story, well, that’s a whole other ball game. The writing in this movie is poor at best with some really cringe-inducing dialogue, such as an out-of-the-blue explanation for an ear injury. There’s also some pretty stiff acting here which makes it worse. Granted they are action stars, but one needs only yo look over at Jason Statham in the same frame to realize that action stars really can have acting chops as well. But I must say that the scene I was really looking forward to with Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger ended up being really disappointing. These three are the best of the best when it comes to action stars; its too bad the writing wasn’t equal to the moment.
The story is also quite jumbled including a subplot with Statham comprised of two-scenes which adds nothing to the overall story whatsoever except perhaps to show that Statham’s character is a good guy, but that’s never really touch upon later anyways. The motive of Stallone’s character is also really forced as he tried to tack on some sort of idea about “saving this girl will save his soul”, and idea contrived through an incredibly out-of-place, contrived (though well-acted) monologue by Mickey Rourke.
Now I know what you’re thinking; anyone who argues about writing and story in a film liked this missed the point. That’s not what this movie was about. Fair enough, and I agree with that mentality to a point. If the story is paper thin and is really just used to showcase kick-ass actions scenes or if the writing is just bland and doesn’t stand out, that’s one thing. But when they try for a meaningful story and fail or if the writing is just really bland, then it detracts from the entertainment value plain and simple.
A 6/10, and that’s generous. Its probably more like a 5.