As a massive fan of eighties action flicks - everything from Arnie classics like RED HEAT and PREDATOR - to all those Sly Stallone ROCKY flicks - I was massively looking forward to Sly Stallone's nostalgia-fest, THE EXPENDABLES. Any movie features Sly, Dolph, Arnie, Mickey Rourke et al was going to be okay with me. It was a bit disappointing they couldn't get Jean-Claude van Damme too but hey, it was a dream cast-list of muscle-bound meat-heads plus their younger heir apparent, Jason Statham. The plot also sounded reassuring hackneyed - a bunch of mercenaries are hired by the CIA to go depose a Latin American dictator. Simple as. Knife fights, gun fights, fist fights, blowing shit up, liberating locals and presumably returning home to some grateful hot totty.
What did we get? Half an hour of sheer nostalgia and gratitude on the part of this viewer. Every time I saw another aged crony on the screen I felt warm and fuzzy. But after the initial thrill had passed, I was just plain bored. Because THE EXPENDABLES is basically a very very mediocre film. Sure, all the explosions and stunts are there, but there are no stakes. The dialogue is crappy and I really didn't care about any of it. What writer-director Sly Stallone failed to realise was that in those 1980s classics, sure there was ridonkulousness, but there was also heart. We cared about Rocky and Adrian. Rambo was actually a pretty deep film about psychological scarring and alienation. Movies like TERMINATOR and RUNNING MAN had proper political and sci-fi credentials. And even when the movies were purely stupid - PREDATOR springs to mind - they had the good sense to amp everything up to R-rated craziness. And while THE EXPENDABLES had some of the violence, and I say this with all respect to the feminist cause, where were the boobs?
Sad, but true, THE EXPENDABLES was just to bland and safe and polished.
THE EXPENDABLES opened in August/September 2010 and is now available to rent and buy.