JourneyThroughHell Reviews: The Expendables (2010)

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.

image
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.

I heard Jet Li's major fight scene was wasted on a Handicam sequence. Seriously, if I want to see action, I want to SEE action. Bourne remains the only films that can pull it off.
I FUCKING LOVE JET LI >.<

Yay! It's exactly what I expected! I heard the cast of this movie before anything else and accurately predicted the movie. I really want to see it.

kman123:
I heard Jet Li's major fight scene was wasted on a Handicam sequence. Seriously, if I want to see action, I want to SEE action. Bourne remains the only films that can pull it off.
I FUCKING LOVE JET LI >.<

Yeah, it does suffer a bit from HandyCam disorder, but I found it better than that last Bourne movie.
And that major fight scene is full of win and glory. Just saying.

I wanna see it, mostly because I enjoy dumb action movies, I was raised in the 80's and this seems like a nostalgia dream come true.

Thanks for confirming what I hoped. ^_^

Hm.

Here I was, dissing the movie and almost not giving it a chance, and here comes the saving grace in form of a review. You dispelled my fear that the Expendables would try to be "sophisticated".

/tips hat

Thanks for that. I'll be looking forward to a round of solid entertainment later this week.

At a side note: I fully expected the female leads to be a weak spot. Hardly any action movie has been able to convince me lately that having the token female included in the script is a good idea any more. Sherlock Holmes... The A-Team... both good movies in my opinion, which all would have performed alot better if they'd ditched the female leads entirely. Oh well.

Anah'ya:
Hm.

Here I was, dissing the movie and almost not giving it a chance, and here comes the saving grace in form of a review. You dispelled my fear that the Expendables would try to be "sophisticated".

/tips hat

Thanks for that. I'll be looking forward to a round of solid entertainment later this week.

At a side note: I fully expected the female leads to be a weak spot. Hardly any action movie has been able to convince me lately that having the token female included in the script is a good idea any more. Sherlock Holmes... The A-Team... both good movies in my opinion, which all would have performed alot better if they'd ditched the female leads entirely. Oh well.

There was a female lead in A-Team? O_o

I must have missed it, what with all the awesome being shoved in my face at the time.

King of the Sandbox:

There was a female lead in A-Team? O_o

I must have missed it, what with all the awesome being shoved in my face at the time.

Well. She might have played a side-roll in comparison to the team itself. But she was there. And she was fucking annoying.

Aw dammit. If you like it, then I probably won't.

But then again, if Hubilub likes it (Which he does) then I probably will.

Hrmmmm......

Anyway, good review. Pleased you managed to fit in the trademark Avatar bashing, Journey ma boi.

The Rock sucked...

One question, is there shaky-cam?

Because that's a pet peeve of mine in movies with action scenes.

rabidmidget:
One question, is there shaky-cam?

Because that's a pet peeve of mine in movies with action scenes.

From another review I've seen, it does seem to suffer from shaky-cam-itis. But not enough to ruin it completely.

Again, I haven't seen it in person, this was just in a review, so don't take my word as law.

Ah, so critics panned it for the same reason they panned The A-Team?

I loved the latter. It was everything it intended to be (a fun action flick) and it did it with flair. Far better than anything Michael Bay can pull off, definitely.

Also, hating on handycam-shots. Stop trying to rip off Bourne and let us actually see the action, hmm? I mean, the fight scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy were so much better than the prequels for that reason.

rabidmidget:
One question, is there shaky-cam?

Because that's a pet peeve of mine in movies with action scenes.

Well, maybe it's just me, but I've certainly seen some. It can be a bit confusing to follow in some scenes.
But it works.

Lord Krunk:
Far better than anything Michael Bay can pull off, definitely.

Well, apart from The Rock, of course, which, you shouldn't forget, is the best movie of all-time.
Ha!

Lord Krunk:

Also, hating on handycam-shots. Stop trying to rip off Bourne and let us actually see the action, hmm? I mean, the fight scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy were so much better than the prequels for that reason.

Were they?
I mean, Episode III.

Furburt:
Pleased you managed to fit in the trademark Avatar bashing, Journey ma boi.

Well, would it be me if I didn't. But I think it really fits here - I think that those two movies are quite similar, but one tries to be smart and I hate it, the other one doesn't and I love it.
Oh, and, ma boi? Zelda CD-i? The horror.

Furburt:

The Rock sucked...

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked