Saturday, August 21, 2010

Movie Review: The Expendables

The wife and I just got back from watching The Expendables.

I wasn't expecting it to be great cinema, just a fun and violent action flick like in the good old days. Of course, the advertising was trying to make it look like an action movie version of the Ocean's Eleven+ movies, with just as many action stars as they could cram into it.

Schwarzeneger's part was just a little cameo. I expected that, since as a governor he really doesn't have the time to be doing any movies even if he wanted to. His cameo was well done, though, and fairly funny. A bit disappointing was that Bruce Willis's part was also a cameo, and was actually the same scene as Arnold.

Well, the plot was fairly cut and dry. No real twists. The story arc for Stalone's character was just barely enough to keep him from being flat, but he didn't really seem fully fleshed out. Similar to Jason Statham's and Jet Li's characters. The bad guy banana republic general was actually the most fully fleshed out and complex character in the movie, and even he wasn't drawn that complexly. Coming in second was Mickey Rourke's retired merc/contact. But then this is an action movie in the style of the good old days of the 80's, so if you were expecting complex character drama, you're in the wrong place.

The action, which is pretty much the whole draw of the movie, was pretty well done. Lots of cool fight scenes, shoot outs, a couple car chases, some aerial strafing, explosions galore, Central American goon soldiers who can't hit the broad side of a barn, duplicitous CIA agents, and of course a hot chick in distress. Everything you'd expect from an 80's action flick.

(Spoiler alert--scroll down to the second paragraph after the white space if you don't want this spoiled)

I'd say the only thing I found disappointing was the fact that none of the 'Expendables' bought it. In my favorite action movies, like Aliens or the original Predator, lots of 'good guys' die. It really raises the stakes, and I like it. There were a couple members of the team, Caesar and Road Block, who could have died without ruining the ending. Dolph Lundgren's character could have bitten it as well. Oh well, movies can't all be perfect.

OK, end of the spoilers.

In the end, I liked it for what it was--a bit of retro popcorn fun. It's the kind of movie that's likely to get played a lot on cable TV in the future. Just good enough to watch and enjoy now and then, but not destined to be many people's favorite action movie, I'd guess.

See this movie if: Like me, you loved watching those old 80's Schwarzeneger/Stalone/Norris action movies when you were young.

Skip it if: You've gotten past the need for adrenaline/testosterone rush violent action movies with little plot or character.

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