THE EXPENDABLES is that hard R-rated film that hits the sweet spot for adults craving adult oriented action and humor with past and present staples of actions cinema. Sylvester Stallone crafts not only a film, but a hugely successful franchise, around himself and his movie star buddies. The film is so much fun to watch, watching these ancient relics double-fisting machine guns and laying waste to anyone in their path.
Sure, the film is riddled with hammy dialogue, campy acting, ridiculous character names, and obnoxious action – but that is EXACTLY what this film should be, and is. Sylvester Stallone is one of cinema’s most unsung and undervalued auteurs. This is a guy, who has made catastrophic career choices; yet he’s been able to resurrect his career four, count it, four times due to his directing and writing abilities. Rocky, Rambo, Expendables, and now his reinvention of Rocky in last year’s CREED.
Stallone took a film with an eighty million dollar budget that yielded 275million at the worldwide box office, and spurred two successful sequels. The subgenre of the hard R rated B action films have seemed to have slipped off the cinematic radar in past years. Either we get a tent-pole movie star grazing his way through a watered down PG-13 film, or we get some sort of intentional franchise starter with an over-the-hill star fighting alongside a fresh face who more times than not, lacks acting chops severely.
THE EXPENDABLES goes for it, and resets the mold of that strain of films we have missed. Stallone headlines Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eric Roberts. Not to mention all the other wonderful additions Stallone recruited for the two sequels.
Stallone creates a world that takes place inside the movie world. These guys are big, tough, and ooze masculinity. The dialogue is akin to what we heard from the same actors in the 80’s, the practical explosions are bigger, and the CGI blood is absolutely egregious. The director’s cut of the film stands slightly taller, adding a bit more depth, and rounds out some of the more clunky characters in the film.
While this film is nowhere near perfect, it is perfect for what it is. Dolph Lundgren lynching Somalin pirates, Stallone quick drawing a revolver and taking out six guys, Eric Roberts being over-the-top snarling through his teeth, Jason Statham putting his fist through skulls, Mickey Rourke looking obnoxious as ever yet putting on an acting clinic in his brief scene, and everything else you’d want from a hard R, quickly paced B movie filled with explosions and gunfire. THE EXPENDABLES and its two sequels is a feverishly welcome return from an auteur that refuses to be rendered obsolete.