Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Expendables: "Easily the Best Pure Action Movie in Years"

By: Da’Mon Guy

     The Expendables is an action packed, star studded collaboration that returns the action movie genre to its glory days of the 80‘s and 90‘s. This commingling of talent features Sylvester Stallone (Rambo films), Jason Statham (Transporter trilogy), Jet Li (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV), Randy Couture (Scorpion King 2), Terry Crews (Friday After Next), Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), and Steve Austin (The Condemned). It also features appearances by Bruce Willis (Die Hard movies) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator movies).

     A team of mercenaries fights to free a small country from a dictator.
     The Expendables is an action oriented, collaborative vision brought to life by its star and director, Sylvester Stallone. The film is an overdue realization for many who fell in love with some of the great action films from the 80’s as it is the dream convergence of three of Hollywood’s greatest action stars of all time. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone as the star, with Willis and Schwarzenegger making brief cameos, was a delightful realization of every action movie fan of the last few decades. This alliance was a long overdue treat to see on film. The three quickly establishes a level of camaraderie within this brief flirtation of satisfaction. Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger commence a verbal jousting that is extremely brief and somewhat unsatisfying. However, the trio makes the most of the limited minutes they appear in the film.
     The film is a multiparty usage of ammunition that harkens back to the classic time when there were actual action stars and not these pseudo action imitators that have spread throughout modern movies like pestilence. Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger took the characters and the movie they portrayed in and made them iconic. Each of them has at least one iconic action character under their belts. Despite their limited range in the roles of choice (except Willis), each of them truly embraced being an action star first and not as a secondary acting choice. They were “tough guys” and the we believed and loved it. Today’s modern action stars are just the opposite. They use a role here or there and try to pass themselves off in a role that is more unlike them causing the film and the character to lose plausibility. Hollywood does a disservice to the audience and the genre with these catastrophic choices.
     Each of the main characters relive some of their best roles from the 80’s-90’s. Stallone was back to form as our aging protagonist and leader, Barney Ross. The Expendables includes Hollywood’s only modern day action star, Jason Statham. He is equally impressive as Lee Christmas, Ross’s best friend and second in command of the Expendables. Statham’s fighting prowess and charisma are on full display as the crusading mercenary. Stallone and Statham had a excellent level of chemistry as the mismatched duo. The modern action star with the former star dynamic worked well for the film. Mickey Rourke does his scene stealing best as he adds a few moments of excellent entertainment as the retired conscious of the team now turned tattoo artist, Tool. As Gunner, Dolph Lundgren returns to form as the crazy, slightly deranged characters that he is best at. His line of “Warning shot” as he began the first action sequence of the film was an entertaining precursor to the initial battle. Lundgren was a scene stealer within the film. He clearly took advantage of his limited screen time. Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture as the other members of the team are more or less “eye candy” used to fluff the story with other action stars who sign on to make the selling point of the film work. Eric Roberts stars as the lead antagonist. He does an admirable job as the potential nemesis to the star studded alliance that opposes him. Roberts was cool, collective, and entertainingly vicious as James Munroe, the now rogue CIA agent. Steve Austin adds a good cameo as Munroe’s muscle.

     This isn’t by any means a performance driven story. So don’t expcet any Academy award winning acting. Sylvester Stallone is clearly getting better as a director as this is his ninth directorial effort and best to date. Rocky Balboa, Rambo, and now the Expendables are starting to show his skill as a director. He doesn’t focus on the acting nor the plot for this. He cleverly uses the talent that he has and delivers an action filled film that is likable and believable. The man clearly knows how to put together an action flick.

     The plot isn’t the greatest nor is the delivery of the story but that’s not why you go to see this type of film. The Expendables straightforward. It’s about action and The Expendables doesn’t disappoint. It come at you from the outset. The action sequences are bold, fast, and violent. They immediately immerse you into why you came to see The Expendables. None of them disappoint as each is better then the one before. The film is a vehicle for the action and the convergence its this collaboration of stars. And what a good ride it is.

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