I’ve just returned from seeing The Expendables.
I knew it was an action movie. I knew there’d be violence, guns, explosions and perhaps even some wooden acting. But The Expendables is truly a film to avoid.
Let me explain.
The trailer is basically a list of the name of the people who are in it. The trouble is that Arnold Schwarzenegger appears for about 30 seconds and Bruce Willis for about one minute. The main guys are Sylvester Stallone (also director/co-writer) and Jason Statham. Jet Li plays a smaller role; Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, et al. appear even less.
2. Not-quite-tongue-in-cheek violence
People’s heads are blown off. In some films this is funny and you’re meant to laugh. You’re not quite sure in this one and the fighting moves are somewhere between realistic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lame.
3. Two-dimensional characters
Fair enough, it’s an action film so I wouldn’t expect marvellous character development. Having said that, the characters’ motivations are weak and its portrayal of women takes us back about 30 years.
4. Lack of plot
- Former FBI man likes money
- Pays general of small country
- Daughter of general enlists help
- General ‘turns’ against FBI man
- Heroes win
5. It’s hypocritical
By going to see films like this we’re ostensibly against ‘The Man’. But are we? We’re sitting there, having paid £7 or so to watch explosions and actors who should perhaps be starring in different films, making way for newer talent. Communism (and by extension, given this is an American film, socialism) is given short shrift with faux-Cuban reference points and stereotypical posturing. We’re supposed to be on the side of the heroes, but even they struggle to find what they actually stand for.
Avoid. At 103 minutes, it’s mercifully short, but it’s part of your life you won’t get back. For an action movie, it’s lacking. And for any other type of movie it’s, quite frankly, laughable.
I usually concur with the average rating on IMDB. For example, 9.1 for Inception is spot-on. At the time of writing, it’s 8.5 for The Expendables. You could reverse those two numbers and I’d still say it was a bit generous.