August 19, 2010

The Expendables: Mission Accomplished

Stallone had one primary goal in making The Expendables and he achieved it. This goal was not to make a masterpiece of a film. It was not to showcase the fine acting talent he assembled. It wasn't to create an exhibition of his talents as a writer, director, producer and star. The goal was to punch the world in the face and remind it that badass tough guys still exist.

Stallone made the film because he was worried about the state of the action film. He told me and he told others that he felt there was a void of tough guys on the screen. Clint Eastwood and John Wayne are pissed, because we've let the cinematic tough guy become a wise-cracking half robot nerd in a shiny red suit. Stallone couldn't let this stand, so he assembled a group of fighters, kickers, shooters, knife throwers, and existential poets to remind us that yes, badasses are here to stay.

The Expendables is not a great film. The plot is rudimentary at best, the acting, or at least the acting that doesn't involve guns is terrible, and Stallone's directing is bizzare. However, when the pain starts getting inflicted, the film really ascends on it's ass-kicking strength. The last 30 minutes are some of the most fun I've had at the movies in years. Just sheer cinematic chaos of the highest order.

It will be interesting to see where the action film goes from here. Are we going to witness the re-birth of the tough guy actor. I mean Jason Statham can't do all the work? Perhaps The Rock's new film "Faster" a return from the Disney films of late will help usher this in. Nic Cage's "Drive Angry" could also be a contender, but I think Cage is too loopy to hold the torch. Or is the effect of the film almost instantaneous, I mean "Machete" opens September 3rd.

There are many things to like about "The Expendables." The Arnold cameo is short, Danny Devito short, but got dayum was it awesome. This guy has to return the screen, his absence has only made his legend bigger. Mickey Rourke's crazy speech about his black heart, how black? "Dracullla Black" brother is a camp masterpiece. Terry Crews, the original Old Spice guy making meatballs in an hallway (that is a metaphor). And finally, Sly, yeah he's old, he doesn't run as fast as he used to, but got dayum, my hats off to him for saving the tough guy genre. Well, at least until THE AVENGERS comes out.

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