I'm not exactly the manliest man out there. I've never really bought into the "Manly" lifestyle and I don't even use Axe Body Spray. Yet as I drove to the theater to see The Expendables (listening to the new Katy Perry album!), I was filled with excitement for the giant dose of testosterone I was about to receive. It's probably no coincidence that I left the theater with a pounding headache as my body was simply not ready for that much manliness on the screen. The Expendables may not have been the amazing action movie I had hoped for, but with such an amazing cast, it was still one of the highlights of the summer for me and a great action flick.
When reading the cast of The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, The Incredible Hulk, Santa, The Brawny Man, etc...) you already start to envision the crazy action scenes they will be able to create. Unfortunately, your imagination will probably do a better job than what you actually get to see. I don't want to knock the movie too much because I did enjoy it, but without the cast of heavyweights they were able to get, the movie is pretty much a generic action movie. It's the type of action movie that has been relegated to Direct to DVD Hell for the past decade or so. Since these movies have mostly gone unseen, what was once generic has become a welcome throwback.
Say you had a great girlfriend in the late 80s but somewhere around 1995 you decided you were getting tired of her bullshit (sorry, I'm still trying to get that extra testosterone out of my body now...) so you part ways. You heard she was doing OK through friends and that she hadn't settled down and was still the same girl from 1985. This was a little sad to you because you yourself had grown a lot since then and settled down and started a family. But then one day in the summer of 2010, you bump into her by chance. She's still the same damn girl from 1985 but since you've been away from that fun lifestyle for so long now, you almost envy her lifestyle. Watching The Expendables is like having sex with that woman.
Back to the actual movie, the other problem I had was the use of quick editing in the fight scenes. The movie likes to have multiple fights going on at once so between the quick cuts within each fight and the quick cuts back and forth between mini-battles, it becomes a little disorienting. The style works better in large open spaces but there was one scene that took place in a narrow hallway that left me waiting for the fight to just end so I could find my bearings again. This is a general complaint of modern action movies but I just wished it strayed from that convention and really stuck with the action as it was unfolding. It's hard to feel the impact of a fight when you aren't allowed the time to really feel each punch thrown.
Other than those gripes, and an insane appearance by a character in the final scene that had me literally laughing out loud, I thoroughly enjoyed this men on a mission tale. I would love to see this turned into a franchise. Hopefully a sequel would raise the stakes a little higher and some of the B-level Expendables would be given a little more room to breathe. We could sit and list actors all day that we would love to see in these movies, but I would be fine sticking with the core group set up in the movie. For the time being, The Expendables works great as a late summer blockbuster. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go relax with a glass of wine and the latest New Yorker...I mean I need to go lift weights and eat a live cow.