Despite promise, Expendables ultimately predictable

By Isaac Azuelos

The Expendables is about explosions. If you don’t like the billowing, orange-yellow flame of something exploding, or the sanguine cloud of someone exploding, you have no reason to see this movie.

The screenplay is written by Stallone — a man made famous by his ability to pass as a man who gets hit in the head for a living — and David Callaham — one of the men responsible for the Doom film. But even knowledge of the screenwriters couldn’t prepare you for how incredibly terrible the dialog is.

The plot isn’t any better. The film’s main exposition occurs in a scene inexplicably lit with blue, where Mickey Rourke attempts to make the audience concerned for the moral plight of mercenaries. They parrot the traditional action movie cliche ‘Am I a burly, angry, rich, killing machine or am I a burly, angry, rich, killing machine with heart?’ You will not relate to these characters and pretending the audience might is simply a disservice to the ultra-manly, unachievable ideal these characters are supposed to portray.

All the stars play the same characters they always play. Jason Statham is the steely, quiet, sophisticated mercenary, while Jet Li — whose character’s name is Ying Yang — is the quick one who punches people. Just like every other aspect of this movie, the characters are predictable, unsurprising and explosion-prone.

The action itself won’t shatter your understanding of what it is to watch an action movie. The camera work is quick and jumpy and the music impressively unimpressive. It’s like a modern Commando. Speaking of Commando, everyone’s favourite governor does make an appearance, albeit a short one, next to Bruce Willis in the one scene whose sole purpose seemed to be bolstering The Expendables’ movie posters.

This movie is ridiculous — it’s the quintessential action flick. The bulk of the action takes place on an island ominously called Vilena, which doesn’t really exist. This island is ruled by a small dictatorship which is said to have an army of 600 and I wouldn’t be surprised if they all died. There are three female characters in the movie and one of them is only seen on the way to a bedroom. Only one of them isn’t a love interest, initially anyway. I don’t know how else to make it clear — this movie is exactly what one would expect.

So far it may seem like a bad movie and strictly speaking it is, but to deny that it was a lot of fun wouldn’t be fair. Nobody goes to a movie like this for any reason other than the explosions, obscene violence and maybe the odd one-liner. In that respect the movie delivers. This isn’t the next Terminator or Rocky, it’s another Demolition Man and that’s okay.

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