POSTED ON AUGUST 18, 2010:
Although men salivate for this testosterone-charger, this movie doesn't live up to the hype
Fully Charged. Sylvester Stallone leads an all-star action film cast who play a team of mercenaries that take care of the big fish in The Expendables.
There are many ways to increase the testosterone levels in the human body. The choices include over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, homeopathic remedies or a trip to the doctor for something stronger. I'm going to tell you how to increase the flow of testosterone, for males and females, while spending less money, and it will get you out of this brutal heat wave as a side benefit: go see The Expendables.
It will give you a jolt of hormone, and you won't need to take pills or shots for at least a week. Trust Dr. Joshua, he won't steer you wrong.
Now that we've established how The Expendables can have unexpected benefits on the health of the viewer -- is it any good? Not really. That's the rub -- it will up the testosterone, but you'll have to suffer through its predictable display of mass carnage to get those raised levels. I'm not sure it's worth it.
The Expendables is a celebration of the worst sort of mindless, soulless exploration of the "male action hero" who can't be killed that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Desperate to be cool with the tattoos, motorcycles and fancy toys that kill, The Expendables is a cliché-ridden retread that is all brawn and no heart, lifeless and dull despite all the mayhem on screen.
Sylvester Stallone, more veiny, roided and taut-faced than a 64-year-old should be, plays Barney Ross, the ringleader for a top-notch, armed to the teeth, hard as nails group of mercenary bikers called "The Expendables." They are paid to do nasty things like rescue hostages from pirates or take down rogue governments.
When they are hired for a job, you get the feeling a lot of people are going to be buried when they are finished. How tough are "The Expendables?" They are so tough even the opening credits use a typeface that resembles steel. Now that's tough!
The crew gets a $5 million gig to take down a tyrannical despot on a picturesque island. El Presidente is just a puppet leader though, the real heavy is a suited up American who wants to use the island's soil to grow cocaine and the soldiers to make sure nothing goes wrong. They rule with a "no-mercy" policy on anything that disturbs their profitable export business. All this changes when "The Expendables" show up to unleash a dose of destruction and a cleanse-by-fire (literally) campaign.
Here's the rest of the paper-thin plot in a nutshell: People get shot; stuff blows up. There are a few scenes with some of the characters ruminating on their life-path or girlfriends but fret not. Soon after, someone is getting pummeled in a street fight, or they head back to the island for some large-scale killing. Plus, the moments in the film that attempt non-action character building in the biker's lair are laughable, taking male-bonding to a strange realm much closer to homo-erotica than Stallone intended. Luckily, Stallone returns to annihilation real quick so as not to confuse and alienate the 95 percent red-blooded male audience too much.
The Expendables is really promoting its large ensemble cast, and that's true. Stallone has covered every possible base for action fans: Jet Li for martial arts, English bloke Jason Statham, a few has beens (Dolph Lungren, Eric Roberts), a has been on the comeback trail (Mickey Rourke) and a collection of former wrestlers/mixed martial artists and football players in Randy Couture, Steve Austin and Terry Crews. There's also gimmick casting with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger for a brief scene that adds nothing to the story but will give a few wink-wink chuckles. I just groaned and shook my head.
This is an action film that isn't going to raise the bar for anything, including the actors. They do what they do best -- scowl, fight, shoot guns, flex, mumble wooden delivery of overwritten, nonsensical action movie one-liners. The phrase "one-note" was meant for what happens among the characters.
There's a reason most of the cast are known for their personalities and physiques more than anything else -- it's all they can do. Why act when it's so much easier to crack someone's skull by repeatedly smashing it into a pile of brick rubble? Every character is just a cardboard cutout and stereotype, either cartoonish villain or rebellious hero.
The Expendables will soothe any rabid gun nut's craving for weapon porn. Don't be alarmed if you hear heavy breathing and moaning from the audience, it's someone being sexually stimulated by the abundance of munitions discharging death. Expect an assortment of knives to the throat, pistols, rifles, machine guns, bombs and explosive bullets that literally tear a man in half on impact. What fun. There's so much gunfire in The Expendables that Stallone should have approached the NRA for funding.
The climactic "let's-join-together-despite-long-odds-to-save-the-girl" mission toward the end lacks any tension whatsoever. It's an endless orgy of brutal blood splattering, over choreographed fights, shootouts and explosions. How could so much action be this mind-numbingly dull and uninteresting?
The payoff sequence embraces every stripe of vacuous action movie cliché such as running out of time before explosions come, tests of loyalty, betrayal, self-sacrifice and the "think of me when I'm gone" goodbye. Forget about shooting people in the movie, how about shooting me so I don't have to keep watching?
I hoped that this genre of filmmaking would never see a return, but this summer is worrying me with the A-Team and The Losers already released and drawing crowds. And now, a geriatric Stallone delivers the most masculine and violent testament to macho yet.
I guess people just want to see stuff shot the hell up with no consideration to story or character. My taste bar reaches higher than films like The Expendables attempt to climb. At least after I saw it, with the testosterone coursing through my system, I was inspired to change the air filter on my lawn mower. That's as manly as I can get.
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