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Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham Are Halfway in ‘The Expendables’

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Average: 3.5 (2 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Seeing them all together was fun. Enduring some macho joshing, even in the form of stiff dialogue, was tolerable. But doing a bad, boring action movie with Sylvester Stallone trying to prop up his “legacy” was sadly too much to bear. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are among “The Expendables.”

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is the leader of a mercenary force, and the film opens with an intervention on a ship that’s been pirated. His force, which includes his right hand man Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Ying Yang (Jet Li), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), is introduced, and although they take care of the situation, Gunner goes rogue and Barney is looking for the next big job. He even commiserates with his best pal, Tool (Mickey Rourke).

The next gig comes in the form of Bruce Willis, as Mr. Church. He hires the team to take out a tinhorn despot general, who is starving his people on a small island country by giving up the fields to cocaine production. His partner is an American named James Munroe (Eric Roberts), running the drugs and pulling the strings behind the dictatorship.

Whole Lotta Gunnin’ Going On: Ying Yang (Jet Li), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) and Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) in ‘The Expendables’
Ying Yang (Jet Li), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) and Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) in ‘The Expendables’
Photo Credit: Karen Ballard for © Lionsgate

Accepting the assignment, Ross and Christmas do some reconnaissance on the island, where they are ambushed by Munroe’s men (including ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin as Paine). A mysterious woman named Sandra (Giselle Itié) helps them escape the first time, and Barney can’t shake the image of her courage in the line of fire. After some soul searching, and more advice from Tool, the whole team goes back to the island for some good old school butt kicking.

There was a kick of nostalgia seeing all the 1980s and ‘90s action figures together again for the first time. Craggier and dirtier than their younger versions, their cool clubhouse and locker room banter had an air of conviviality, with a bit of a wink at the camera. The pirated ship sequence was well handled in its violent mayhem, and director Stallone even added some expressive use of night vision photography.

Jason Statham was an excellent choice as the second-in-command. What is always admirable about him, which is a prerequisite for all great action guys, is his utter seriousness and invulnerability in the face of all the absurd situations that these type of movies dish out. Statham can take it, and gives back just as good. He is also the best actor of the bunch, which is the easiest contest in the world in a movie like this, even with Mickey Rourke trying to formulate character for Tool.

On the villain side, not one does oily like Eric Roberts does, and even though Dolph Lundgren as Gunner had little reason to go rogue, it was enjoyable to see him up for the challenge. It anticipated that perhaps he and Stallone would get a chance to do a little toe-to-toe combat, ala “Rocky IV” and make the reunion even that much more complete. Another inspired moment had the tinhorn general contemplating his fate in a room bedecked with glowing candlesticks.

But to paraphrase a famous aphorism, “Mickey Rourke wept.” A freaky, weepy monologue by the Mickster is the catalyst to send the team back to the island in Act Two, and that’s when the whole film falls apart. The infiltration and subsequent wreaking of havoc is an utter bore, with an overdose of improbable escapes, fights and big guns fired, but with no new action territory explored. Extreme violence and “things that blow up” took on a hypnotic quality, as in there was so damn many explosions that a baby could have eventually been rocked to sleep to the booming rhythm.

Blowed Up Real Good: John Munroe (Eric Roberts) and Paine (’Stone Cold’ Steve Austin) hit the drink in ‘The Expendables’
Blowed Up Real Good: John Munroe (Eric Roberts) and Paine (Steve Austin) hit the drink in ‘The Expendables’
Photo Credit: Karen Ballard for © Lionsgate

Sly Stallone co-wrote and directed the film, and the worse of his ego is exposed in it. Here was an opportunity to have a gathering of some old favorites, and to waste them in sub-standard action fare was paradise lost. And I’m no expert on male menopause, but obviously Stallone has been doing both hormone therapy and screenplay writing to combat his extreme case. And judging by the looks of his over-pumped arms he missed the chance to add the classic pop song “You’re So Veiny” to the soundtrack.

What the second half of the film lacks, that sense of nostalgic fun expected when walking into the film, was a detriment to getting all these guys together. It made the whole exposition that much more expendable.

“The Expendables” opens everywhere August 13th. Featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Giselle Itié, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone and David Callaham,
directed by Sylvester Stallone. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2010 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

Joe LL's picture

Stallone comments

I agree there is humor to be found in the whole idea of this movie. And like others, this ciritic of course attacks Stallone. But look at the photo of this critic. His comments about Stallone just make him look bad. Most balanced men who understand the value of health understand the fun in keeping that edge. Life is fun with that edge. It’s that simple. And using hormone therapy responsibly has many health benefits along with the overall maintainence of quality of life as you age.

I appreciate the intelligent reviews of movies but I really wish people would stop attacking guys like Stallone and his movies. They serve a purpose. They allow us to connect with that masculine edge inside of those of us who work to keep it. The movies may lack substance but it doesn’t matter. Substance has it’s place and it’s not in movies like this. Movies like this fulfill a need and it’s fun.

Get off Stallone. He’s straight awesome.

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