Madness at the Movies: The Expendables

I’ve been a Sylvester Stallone fan my entire life.  Just something about the guy and his rise to fame I find inspiring.  I remember the bad Stallone years, right after Get Carter.  That film flopped and no one liked it (I did), but then it was followed by either limited release movies or straight-to-DVD fare…not good for one of the biggest action stars of all time.

Still, Stallone managed, by revisiting old characters, to revive his career into a place it hasn’t been in years.  Rocky Balboa did well at the box office, and was a damn good movie.  Following that, he did Rambo which again did well in box office and critical reviews.  I’m really happy to see Stallone putting out quality work again, and apparently so are a lot of people.

But as exciting as it may have been to see Rocky and Rambo one more time…the announcement of The Expendables got everyone foaming at the mouth.  Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Robert, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis?  How could you possibly go wrong?  This would surely be the greatest action movie of all time….right?

The Expendables works best when stuff is blowing up.  Though you don’t have quite the same amount of amazing gore as Rambo, there’s plenty of exploding buildings and people, tons of people getting shot and knived, and plenty of manly manliness.  The last thirty minutes of the film are non-stop action, with explosions and gunfire that’ll tickle anyone looking for a good action set piece.  It’s actually a pretty breathtaking sequence, and exactly what you’re expecting from a film like this.  In fact, all of the action sequences are well done.

The problem is the scenes in between action.  Stallone and Statham are a great pair, and every time they’re together, it works.  Mickey Rourke actually has a pretty memorable scene.  But other than that, despite the fact that all of the guys are pretty likable, most of the dialogue and humor fall flat.  You can tell the guys are having fun and you want to have fun with them, but it’s not quite as enjoyable as some of the banter and fun the guys of the recent A-Team movie had.  It’s not painful to watch, and the film is never boring…it just doesn’t feel like it has quite the same weight as we’re used to seeing in Stallone’s writing.

I get that this was supposed to be an homage to 80’s action and, as such, it works incredibly well.  You’ve got a fake country with a dictator that needs to be overthrown by larger than life heroes.  The problem is that it’s 2010, and we like a little more meat to our films – still, for an enjoyable romp, I recommend seeing The Expendables on the big screen, especially early in its run when it’s on the bigger screens.  You won’t be disappointed with all of the action…just the stuff in between.

Paul Awesomeness Score - 6

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