Friday, August 13, 2010

The Expendables - Zero Stars

The Expendables opens with a shot of the crew riding motorcycles through the street and into a building, then cuts to the title card, then jumps into a poorly staged action sequence. The motorcycles are not seen again until an end credit montage in which they ride them out of the building from the opening. That's pretty much what the movie is like: a hodge-podge of random shit that is meant to be badass, but that have absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the movie. "Motorcycles and leather jackets are real masculine and macho, so we have to get them in there somewhere," Sylvester Stallone surely said out of the side of his mouth to his writing partner at some point.

I guess this is what the movie was meant to be: everything that action movies have, including every random action icon from '87 to '98, but somewhere something went wrong, or everywhere everything went wrong, because what it's missing is entertainment. I'm not sure if Stallone is worse at writing, directing, or acting, because The Expendables hits none of the notes that it should, and wants to hit. It takes itself ultra seriously, shooting all of the dialogue, and quite a bit of the action too, in ultra close-ups. I guess ultra-badasses require an ultra amount of screen-space to speak lines like, "If I could have just saved that girl... I don't know... maybe I could have saved what's left of my soul." That comes out of the mouth of the Mercenary Gone Straight, who's still a tough guy who does the skull and rose-petal tattoos for the guys. And yes, just about all of the dialogue is that bad. Just about all of it is spoken in shorthand... "The general went rogue after skipping town with the goods, it was a real cash-plus operation..." Even their more civilian conversations are like this, but maybe that's because their civilian lives are still hardcore and action-packed; what little we see of them outside of their missions involves a subplot with Jason Statham beating up the no-good boyfriend's basketball team of the woman he loves: "You shouldn't have bruised the girl... next time I'll deflate you!" (after stabbing their basketball). I think that the only time I could condone punching a woman is in this movie, when Stone Cold Steve Austin does just that, because it just means that I don't have to hear whatever poorly-conceived Stallone afterthought was going to escape her mouth. And yes, the scene's a real stunner.

What should have been light and fun is just cold and dark, straining to be philosophical at times. The plot makes no sense, and the action makes even less sense, with the end being basically an eruption of chain-reaction explosions. There is about a three minute montage of the guys setting a bunch of charges on the walls of a big Spanish mansion. I don't know where all of these explosives came from or how they could carry them all, but when they push the button the terrible CGI explosions just keep coming, even from building where no charges were set. And there isn't even a solid one-liner to top it off. It's bad. It's pathetic. It's most definitely expendable.

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