My last cinematic outing was Chris Nolan's Inception, which I followed up by buying The Prestige and Memento. These, I'll save for another blog once I've attempted to make them into some kind of coherent timeline... and not half-watched after falling in from work at 1...2..ish..in the morning. No, I returned to the cinema, at HALF FREAKIN' TEN on Wednesday morning to make sure I didn't lose out on tickets for something quite different altogether...
Action movies and most things made in the 80s with high concepts and higher budgets are a bit of a favourite of mine. I remember seeing Die Hard for the first time, I demanded my mum sign up to Blockbuster JUST so I could rent it after a friend told me all about it. Like most teenage boys, I went through a WWF phase (Friday Night Raw, Saturday Night Smackdown...ah. Simple times). I watched Face/Off and The Rock and Con Air years before I was probably supposed to. Soooo when I read ages ago about THE BEST ACTION CAST EVER ASSEMBLED- and Eric Roberts- I was more than a li'l bit intrigued.
Coincidentally the film was released finding itself sharing hype with Scott Pilgrim vs The World. After watching the only man in his 20's who still sounds like a teenage girl, do the 'adorable monotonous geek' thing one too many times in Youth In Revolt, the constant exposure of his
weedy, ironically cool face everywhere was beginning to wind me right up. Instead, I opted for the "man's" film, and enjoyed it far more than I would watching Michael Cera waste more time waiting for his first chest hair to come through.
There isn't much about The Expendables that you can't tell from the trailers, or at least the poster. It's written and directed by Sly Stallone, a man who can barely talk yet is somehow able to string a semi-legible screenplay together whilst getting thrown about by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Basically he, Jason Statham (..swoon....), Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren are a team of killer assassins, but assassins with an odd sort of moral code that means no killing for no reason. But...shock!...big Dolph gets his drug problem and need for blood get the better of him
and he's kicked out. Sly ponders this, and his lack of belief in anything, whilst hanging about Mickey Rourke's tattoo parlour/bike shop watching Jason Statham throw knives at dartboards. He is summoned by John McC... sorry, Bruce Willis who asks him to go to an island somewhere in South America and overthrow the evil dictator who's actually really working for Eric Roberts. Who's growing cocaine. And the General's daughter is a rebel who allows Sly & Stath to sneak into the island in the first place.
Caught up? Well done. You're about as clever as 98% of the population. There's also some soul searching thrown in courtesy of Mick- I'm guessing since he's the only one who could, y'know, ACT, he was just given all the dialogue. This leads ol' Sly to finally find something for himself to believe in, despite barely escaping with his life visiting the island for the first time. Deeeeeep. I kinda wondered why they even bothered coming up with character names in the first place- Jet Li's character is called 'Yin Yang' (for serious). Stath is Lee Christmas, Dolph becomes Gunner and Steve Austin's character is called Paine. PAINE.I'm guessing as much thought went into the dialogue as went into the name choices/plot twists/plot...in general... For example, Austin's ass-whooping/word-mangling style of interrogation throws up this little gem:
Paine: "Who are you working for?" Barney Ross (Sly): "Your hairdresser". Brilliant stuff, truly brilliant. Still, for all its terrible soundbite dialogue, questionable acting and apparently missing plot, there's one area in which this film pulls no punches... the ACTION. The fight scenes are bursting at the seams with testosterone and even when our heroes are enjoying some down time together, they're still having Manly down time.
This film is the perfect antidote for anything you've seen so far that has left you feeling confused, befuddled, unfulfilled or, y'know, thinking about it afterwards. There's not really a great deal more to say about it- I think I've said all I can really. Although for those eager to see the greatest sharing of screen time since De Niro and Pacino in Heat, the scene between Sly and AAAH-NUUULD is literally JUST a scene, full of cheesy self-references and further proof that former bodybuilders don't necessarily make for good...or at least passable...actors.
For all my semi-slagging of the film, it is genuinely a whole mess of fun. As long as you expect nothing from it. I even found myself shaking an involuntary pumped fist at the screen and shouting of "GET SOME!" on more than a few occasions...worryingly though, since then I've tried to watch Memento three times and have gotten nowhere, and abandoned the book I was reading for Ozzy Osbourne's autobiography. Can too much manly action really have deteriorated my brain? Ah, well. I'll just go and watch Rambo again. (Funnily enough, aside from the setting and larger supporting cast, if you've seen Rambo 4 you'll find yourself in very comfortably familiar territory with The Expendables).