It got me far, far longer than I thought to get back to reviewing, but here I am, finally back. And is there better way to be back than to review one of the most expected movies of this summer.
As a not-so-frequent moviegoer, it's always nice to discover new review territories for myself, because I don't really think I could ever review movies. There are just things you don't really get that well and, for me, movies do fall into that category. I planned this as a little challenge, yet, here I am, writing the review for The Expendables with ease because, while I don't get some movies, this is exactly the type of movies I get.
August 13? WTF? Is this the first time in my life ever when a major American film has been released in Russia a day earlier?
The Expendables is a very recently released action flick that aims to recreate the feel of the action movies of the eighties. This is nothing new and it probably wouldn't be anything special if not for one thing that drew immediate attention. The ensemble cast was nothing short of killer, because the people who were announced to be in this movie had enough starpower to hold five-movies of this stature. But, instead, they were all cast here.
I mean, holy fuck, how could anyone stay indifferent towards a movie that has Stallone, Statham, Jet Li, Lundgren, Rourke and a whole bunch of professional wrestlers and martial arts fighters who even I, being from Russia where wrestling and MMA are absolutely unknown, recognized.
I was hooked, as many people I knew were, and decided that if there was a movie this summer that I had to see opening day, this was probably the one. Yet, opening day in Russia is two days after the premiere in wherever-the-hell, so when I saw this movie, I had already known of the critical reception it received. And it nearly crushed me. But more on that later.
So, I went to the cinema, unsure of what to expect, whether the Expendables would be a dumb, but awesome action flick or a war movie with unnecessary messages that is trying too hard...
It's the first one. And that's great. The Expendables is fucking awesome, go see for yourself. Not much to say, really. It's really short yet filled with kickass and awesomeness to the max.
The movie is about a group of mercenaries known as, well, "The Expendables", who basically act as a Special Forces kind of team for everyone who has enough money. In the movie, they are sent into South America to overthrow a dictatorship but actually they're supposed to get rid of the bigger fish that is a former CIA-defect who basically bought the dictator of the island and is now abusing the shit out of the freedom loving citizens of that country... and do you honestly care? This sounds cliche as hell, mainly because it is and it is damn proud of it.
I know many of you will disagree with me, but, believe me, with this premise, you have to be really thankful that the story, well, doesn't suck. Because this is exactly the premise that could be used to insert "smart" political commentary and "deep" undertones into the movie. And if that happened, the movie would absolutely waste what it had going for itself. In fact, then it would've been another Rambo 4. You can't imagine how dreaded I am by this thought.
Now, even more of you will disagree, but the fact that "The Expendables" isn't trying to be smart makes it a far better movie than many of its counterparts, i.e. the last James Cameron movie that should not be named.
It's not completely dumb, mind you. There are some pretty expected themes in the movie that have to do with getting old or money corrupting people. And it does show some of the hardships that the South American peasants go through. But neither of these quite important themes dominate the movie and neither of them are hammered into your skull because the movie is too afraid you are unable to think for yourself *cough*Avatar*cough*.
The cast of the movie is amazing. All the actors that Stallone included in the movie get a chance to shine due to the really good screenplay. This is quite an achievement, seeing how big the cast is. While the main characters of the movie are Stallone and Statham, nobody gets left out. For example, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren are both featured in the best, imo, fight of the movie, Randy Couture gets his own quite worthy heroic moment, Rourke, who is never actually part of the action, but delivers some great lines and plays an important role, and Terry Crews... well, I'm not going to spoil it.
And that's just the Expendables themselves. On the villain side, we have Eric Roberts and Steve Austin, who are both extremely memorable, and David Zayas, whose dictator character is one of the most interesting parts of the movie.
Add to that brief, but gleeful cameos, from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I can safely say that the cast of The Expendables duly delivers on its promises.
Okay, okay, not everything is that great. The main female leads, for example, are supremely annoying, unlikeable and mostly useless, especially Sandra, the dictator's daughter whose actions make as little sense as you could imagine.
I should've made this clearer earlier so, if you don't know it by now, 90% of the movie is basically action. The thing is, it's really well-directed. The shootouts are all surprisingly mature-ish and there are no headdeskingly stupid moments, the body count is high and it's all fairly gory without being nauseating. But what really steals the show is the hand-to-hand fighting which is well choreographed and imaginative enough to stop the movie from getting stale.
The only big problem with the movie is that it's short, but even that is probably a good thing seeing how the director didn't have to make the movie artificially longer - which is a good thing (ahem, Transformers).
The Expendables is a thrill-ride that sets its goal to entertain you while it lasts and it succeeds at that. As if you needed me to say that, it's good. Go see it. On the big screen.
Oh, and, dear critics. What the fuck did you expect?
JourneyThroughHell is the guy who is really sorry he rushed this review, but it couldn't have been helped. Also, he really doesn't like Avatar.