My friend summed up the experience of watching The Expendables pretty well: “When the credits started to roll, I had realised I’d been grinning through the whole film”.
Now, there are going to be some people out there that don’t like this film from the outset. There’s nothing particularly clever going on in the plot, it’s your typical “bad guy owns an island and mistreats its residents until the good guys turn up and blow up/kill everything”. Even a semi emotional scene that Mickey Rourke delivers on the risk of mercenaries losing their humanity was there purely to convince Mr Stallone to get back into the action.
But do you know what, if you’ve come to see anything but a love letter written to the Over-The-Top action films of the 80’s, you are kind of watching the wrong film. I’ve just recently read one review saying that the film is lacking due to a very shoddy plot. Do you know what? I really don’t think this film even needs that much of a plot. Just the merest hint of an excuse for these guys to kick the shit out of stuff is enough. With this cast, did you actually expect anything more, is what I have to ask. I think these reviewers are coming at this film from the wrong angle. I actually found myself revelling in the clichés in this film, but found it hard to work out if Stallone had intended them to be there as a homage or if was just happenstance.
Fight scenes usually caused me and my fellow cinema goers to either cheer or audibly wince, as the choreography made it appear that these guys really weren’t holding back in wrecking each other. Jason Statham was pretty much top dog as far as fight scenes went in this film, he got all the best set pieces and made everything look fluid and furious, chucking round throwing knives and mixing martial arts very nicely with close pistol work.
Jet Li was underutilised pretty much the whole way through the film, but with this many big names some of them are going to be left in the dust. Maybe if there’s a sequel (I wouldn’t be surprised looking at how well it did in the box-office) Stallone will take this universally agreed criticism on-board. The other members of the mercenary gang would benefit from a bit more limelight, but for me this really didn’t detract from the experience, everyone had their place and it all slotted together like an excellent jigsaw puzzle of a massive explosion, with the two Statham/Stallone pieces being slightly bigger than all the others.
This film is chock-a-block with explosions, fighting, shooting, posturing, flexing, excellent death scenes and the odd bit of gore. Testosterone levels are set to 11 and I’m sure I’m more of a man for having watched it. If this all appeals to you try and watch it at the cinema before it runs its course. Only the big screen will do this much awesomeness justice.
Note: I can’t help but feel I am exactly the demographic this film was marketed at.