I hoped to write a cohesive review of The Expendables today but I got real busy. Plus I realized it would be more in keeping with the film, thematically, to haphazardly list all the points I want to make — with bullets, no less — rather than try to carefully make sense of them all. So here we go:
• For some reason, I thought this was going to be a sort of meta action film, like in the way Zombieland was a zombie movie or even the way Drag Me To Hell was a horror movie. It wasn’t. It was wholly unironic.
I really appreciated both those movies, the way they both toyed with their genre conventions but still played up their best points, but I also very much respected that The Expendables just all out went for it. It was like Sylvester Stallone was bellowing, “Film is not dead!” Except you couldn’t really make out what he was saying, because, well, you know.
• My main concern was that there wouldn’t be enough Jason Statham. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Sylvester Stallone but I don’t want to sit through two hours of an old-ass man pretending he can still kick ass like Jason Statham can. No offense, dad. Luckily, there was sufficient Statham.
• Someone is going to write an awesome college paper someday about the way video games have influenced film. Aw, what am I talking about? Probably that college paper has already been written millions of times. I feel like Statham movies in particular tend to draw on video games, but I guess most modern action movies do. Anyway, there’s a lot of BFG action in this movie.
• About 45 minutes deep, I grew really concerned that there would be way too much talking in the movie. I thought, man, it’s about time Jason Statham threw a knife in someone’s head. And then, sure enough, Jason Statham threw a knife in someone’s head and from there on out it was pretty much awesome.
• But I should make this clear: This movie wasn’t just about a team of mercenaries with an arsenal of amazing weapons overthrowing the government of a small Caribbean island nation. It was about salvaging the last surviving vestiges of Sylvester Stallone’s battered soul so he wouldn’t go dead inside like Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Roberts all did. Apparently in The Expendables‘ world there’s some dimmer switch on every man’s soul that only women have access to, and once it goes all the way off it can never come back on.
• Jet Li is getting old. Turns out he’s 48. He was mostly used for comic relief in this movie, which was sad considering all the awesome things I’ve seen Jet Li do.
• Put The Expendables down on the list with every other movie ever made (except possibly Idiocracy) under the heading “Films that have underutilized Terry Crews.”
Don’t get me wrong, Crews was awesome in The Expendables, but there should have been way more of him. This man is a towering talent who needs a better vehicle. I’m not kidding. I watched every episode of Everybody Hates Chris only because of how amazing he was in it. He took a mediocre sitcom, put it on his giant shoulders and carried it into hilarity.
I feel like because he’s a huge, jacked black guy, Crews is doomed to get typecast in Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr. roles. But he is clearly capable of so much more than that. I would go see Eat Pray Love on opening night if Terry Crews played the romantic male lead. Or the Julia Roberts part. Whatever. Dude is unbelievable.
• Schwarzenegger’s cameo is awful. It’s during the boring, talking part of the movie, but even considering that it kills the whole pace of the thing. I mean screeching-halt bad. I guess it’s cool that the governor of California was in the movie, but he didn’t even kick any asses. I could’ve done without the whole part. Plus that was the only part of the movie that broke the fourth wall in the meta wink-wink way I referred to earlier, and it just came off as lame and forced.