I just realized yesterday that The Expendables and that awful looking film from earlier this year, Valentine's Day, have something in common. They were both plotless exercises in bad writing, with the greatest redeeming factor likely being its all-star cast. They were both marketed the same way, "Hey, look how many famous people we can stuff into this movie!"
It has been a while since dialog has been as laughable as it is in The Expendables. And I know an argument can be made that it is supposed to just be a dumb action movie, but you can tell Stallone wanted it to be a little something more. Forced sentiment is jammed down our throats, often poorly delivered by guys who aren't exactly on the top of their game anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love these guys from their earlier films, and the sole appeal for me to go see this was, "hey, all of these people were once pretty awesome", but I think the biggest factor that hurt The Expendables is that it's surprisingly boring...
And mediocre in terms of an action movie. I think it may have been better if it were cut down quite a bit. There was a whole side story about Jason Statham trying to get back with an ex girlfriend, could have done without 95% of that. The first half was riddled with needless (and bad) talking from Stallone and company (Sly could have benefitted from subtitles). I feel like they ruined the Jet Li character, the one guy there who can probably still actually fight in real life. They made him a whiney, depressing guy who gets picked on the whole movie and needs help during fights. Could have made him a little more BA, just saying. The much anticipated scene featuring Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwartzenegger has already almost completely been shown in the trailers and commercials (except for one hilarious closing joke about Arnold).
And also, making Stallone run at full speed is a hilarious and sad sight.
There were some positive things about it, though. Dolph Lundgren was pretty entertaining as a mercenary losing his cool. Eric Roberts was good as the sleazy villian. And the final, long action sequence was actually pretty good from a stab/explosion/gunfire-to-minute ratio. If I had to compare it to another recent action movie from this year, though, I'd say A-Team had much more exciting action. Plus Expendables was heavy on the CG blood, not a fan of CG blood. C'mon Stallone, I was expecting you of all people to squib the hell out of this movie!
With a cast featuring more leathery skin than a 10-person couch, The Expendables may be worth a watch as a rental if you want the thrill of seeing a bunch of formerly awesome people be only kind of awesome. You are probably better off watching basically any movie from the glory days of any of these actors rather than The Expendables (Showdown in Little Tokyo anyone?). Again, I didn't think it was terrible, but it definitely wasn't good. So I guess while I'm somewhat happy that I saw it, I feel like in retrospect I should have just seen Scott Pilgrim for a 2nd day in a row.
I was told by a friend that this movie was aweful. Have you watched The Losers yet? I was very happy with that movie, and I can't really seeing that much press about it.
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I have not seen The Losers, for whatever reason I labeled it as more of a rental than a theater movie. But I actually heard fun things about it from the two people I know who saw it, and based on the trailers alone I can already tell it's probably more fun than The Expendables.
I just looked it up, I didn't even realize it had already come out on DVD! I've got a plane ride this weekend, maybe I'll download it from iTunes so I won't have to watch The Wedding Planner or whatever brilliant piece of art they try to show as the in-flight movie...
[Scott Roberts] "There was a whole side story about Jason Statham trying to get back with an ex girlfriend, could have done without 95% of that.
That was Charisma Carpenter, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Both great shows. She was great in neither. Of her work in The Expendables, my wife muttered, "Yet another sign there is no God."
I feel like they ruined the Jet Li character, the one guy there who can probably still actually fight in real life."
Dude, WHAT? Jason Statham could SO beat him down.
Worth noting that the two of them have done 2 crackerjack movies together. The first was "The One," from 2002. It was a jillion times better than almost, sort-of similar Time Cop (which I actually like quite a bit), and had a bit of a Matrix-y feel ahead of its time. Even more conscious of its own ludicrosity than either of those, lending it an air of crackpot joy.
It also has the luscious Carla Gugino, and equally luscious in his own special way, Delroy Lindo. (I will watch any movie with him in it.) Statham and Li are both a gas. Looking for sci-fi claptrap, using claptrap as a compliment? This is a winner.
Their second movie together, War, was an utter surprise. A real-live human drama without being ridiculous about it - it's Statham and Li for criminey's sake - and ultimately, a real live movie. With, uhm, Statham and Li. Lots of stuff gets busted. I don't mean to oversell - it's a 3 and a half star movie, 4 if I'm feeling generous - but really fun. I've watched it a couple of times, and will some more I'm sure.
The closest parallel to The Expendables that I can think of is Space Cowboys, where a bunch of favorite old guys - Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland - get to show us their flabby butts, tell a few stories, and get into a little trouble. A good movie though.
I wasn't expecting The Expendables to be GOOD...but, with so much stuff blowing up (often my only real requirement from a movie), I expected it to be a little more fun.
Still, already working on a sequel. Maybe we'll have some Empire Strikes Back/Godfather II/Superman II action, where the sequel is much better. I see the glass as half full. Hey! Let's blow up the glass!
"Dude, WHAT? Jason Statham could SO beat him down."
Haha you're right, I suppose Statham is probably the current strongest of the group. But the question is, do you think Statham in his prime could beat up early 90s, Once Upon a Time in China Jet Li?
Also, Stallone had an interview on The Howard Stern Show this morning, he talked about even after all these years he's still not really respected in the business, and how he comically got nervous waiting to see if The Expendables beat Eat Pray Love at the box office. He also said he tried, and failed, to give roles to Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal in The Expendables. It was pretty interesting stuff.
[Scott Roberts] "But the question is, do you think Statham in his prime could beat up early 90s, Once Upon a Time in China Jet Li?"
If he could have actually laid a hand on him. :-)
It just occurred to me that perhaps the reason modern action movies have so many cuts during fight scenes, is because the actors can't really fight, so they do each kick and punch as a cut and edit to make them look like they are really going at it - as opposed to the old days when you showed fights in a master shot.
Rambo 4 or whatever the latest one was is not too bad - most of the movie is Stallone running in slow motion or screaming - more digital blood, but oodles of killing scenes.
Stallone was good in Copland - and of course Rocky I when it was more about the man than the fighting - something he tried to show in Rocky Balboa. In other words, Stallone can be a good actor when he is not trying to act like a badass.
Don't forget, Stallone wrote the script for "Rocky" and that is a damn fine classic movie; if it had been his only work, he could always be proud oft hat. So he's not a complete idiot, though that's a common public assumption.
I was looking at the marketing collateral for the first Rocky movie a couple years ago. "Critics" said that he was going to be the next Marlon Brando. I want to go back in time and hand them a copy of Judge Dredd.
" But the question is, do you think Statham in his prime could beat up early 90s, Once Upon a Time in China Jet Li?"
Neither one of these guys are (or were) fighters. Jet Li practices Wushu which isn't a fighting art and Statham has done a little bit of free style Karate and whatever he learns for the movies. Out of all of them, Dolph Lundgren is/was probably the best fighter (having actually been a tournament fighter before). :-)
Come on guys, lets face it. Neither Jason Statham, Jet Li or Dolph Lundren combined could hurt the mighty hands of Gymkata's finest student, Kurt Thomas! :-) Sorry Tim, you new this was coming from me.
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There was a great scene in Extras, the Ricky Gervais series that ran in the US on HBO for two seasons. In the show, Ricky plays a struggling actor who gets bit parts in tv shows and films shooting in London. In each episode there is one or more cameo from actors who are appearing in the fake movie being shot - Kate Winslet, Patrick Stewart, etc - they all portray themselves but with a fictional twist. It is nice to see actors not taking themselves too seriously.
Anyway, one episode features a tv tough guy showing that in reality he is a wimp.
I'm not calling Statham a wimp - he could probably break my arm just by looking at me!
re: Statham - check out Death Race. A hilarious movie with truly exceptional driving stunts, and the best action shooting/editing I've ever seen. Jason is OUTRAGEOUSLY shredded in this thing. This picture doesn't do justice at all.
In the featurette, he said he kept asking the producers, "Now, why did you want me to do all this work? I've eaten nothing but dry chicken breasts and broccoli for months, never worked out harder in my life...and seriously, he's a DRIVER." They kept telling him, trust us, it's going to be great. Jason says,"Well, yeah, I look very impressive doing chin-ups in the movie...but I play a guy who DRIVES A CAR." He's still not persuaded that it was necessary.
I would love him forever for that alone.
Really love the movie, though. Watched it again just the other day. And the COW's Pete O'Connell worked on the VFX.
re: Statham. Stephen, dude, there was never any list of guys asking "who's toughest" that included Kurt Thomas. That's all I'm going to say about that.
re: Dolph Lundgren. I just read yesterday that he has a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney, and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to MIT to study for his doctorate. Dropped out to pursue acting. So there you go.
Stallone says that during Rocky IV, Dolph hit him so hard in the chest that he spent four days in intensive care. No kidding. You can look it up. So there you go.