Sly goes back to his roots…
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin & Mickey Rourke
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Screenplay by: Sylvester Stallone & David Callaham
An elite team of mercernaries known as The Expendables accept a mission to overthrow a ruthless dictator on a small South American island.
As it turned out, Stallone didn’t fully assemble his ‘dream team’ cast of action legends for his latest directional effort, The Expendables. With the likes of Steven Segal and Jean Claude Van Damme opting not to appear in the film, the completed cast didn’t quite look as juicy as Stallone intended. So with this in mind, there can be no denying that The Expendables was always going to be a bit of a missed opportunity before the cameras even started rolling. Put simply, no matter how tough they may well be, having the likes of former NFL star Terry Crews, UFC star Randy Couture and WWE superstar Steve Austin in the line-up instead of Van Damme etc. just doesn’t have the same ‘old-school’ action hero vibe to it.
With all that said however, Stallone has still managed to produce an ‘old-school’ action flick that for those of us who couldn’t get enough of the action films from the early nineties, will have a grin smacked across our face throughout. This is down tio Stallone shooting the action scenes without any CG interference, instead opting for a physical approach with plenty of hand to hand combat, knife fights and unlimited amounts of spraying bullets and fiery explosions.
And in terms of the fighting, the previously mentioned Couture and Steve Austin at least get to fill some kind of purpose by kicking the crap out of each other in a ‘wet dream’ of a face-off if you’re big fans of UFC and WWE. Also more importantly, sticking to Stallone’s ultimate goal of creating an ultimate action movie, we get to see Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li square up to each other not once but twice in a mouth-watering showdown.
Stallone who also wrote the screenplay clearly forgot how to write something called dialogue and something else called character. Sadly the likes of Jason Statham who has become the quintessential British action hero, finds his knife wielding character here void of the usual charisma we associate with him, and he is stuck with a lazy and at times cringe worthy sub-plot involving a woman he has history with. Meanwhile, the dialogue everyone speaks may as well have just been made up on the spot.
Thankfully though, Stallone saved some decent writing for Mickey Rourke’s short screen time as The Expendables handler, allowing Rourke to be the only actor to walk away from the film having given some kind of a performance.
Also, even more importantly, once again going back to Stallone’s ultimate goal here. The monumental moment of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis appearing together on screen for the first time ever is almost the real deal. As short as it may well be, the three action legends fire off inside jokes and hilarious insults at each other in what can only be described as a action fan’s biggest fantasy come true. And yet still you can’t help but feel a little cheated when the scene is over, effectively it sums the film up, an inspired idea that didn’t quite fulfil its potential.