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Monday, 30 May 2011

Blockbuster Review: The Expendables - 2010

I've noticed that I mainly review great films on this blog. So I thought I might try my hand at writing about one of the worst films I saw last year.
That would be Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables.

The Expendables is a film with so many problems that it would take me far to long to list them all in this review, so I'll keep it short.
Actually, when I originally started this review I rapidly veered off into a rant about the problems that plague modern action films, but I've decided to use that for another post.

Instead we have The Expendables, the single worst action film I saw last year (thank God I didn't pay for it).
It is a film so puerile, so poorly made, so badly acted and so awfully written that I honestly felt embarrassed for all those attached to it.

Due to my extreme dislike for this film, you might have assumed that I had high expectations that were simply not met. Well this is not the case, my expectations were about as low as they could get, I knew perfectly well that the acting, directing and writing of the film would be poor, but I was expecting to be entertained. I was expecting a good old fashioned action film for, after all that is what Stallone had promised. Yet my already low expectations were not even met.

The film's main selling point for most people was the cast. Stallone, Statham, Rourke, Li etc...But this is far from the greatest action cast ever assembled, where was Van Damme? Chow Yun Fat? Sean Connery? Kurt Russel?.
Iknow it would have been impossible to gather such a cast, but I still think the claim that this film had the best action cast ever assembled was a very bold one which the film eventually failed to live up to.
For the only ones that get a reasonable amount of screen time are Stallone (obviously) Statham, and to a lesser extent, Li and Rourke. The rest, such as Schwarzenegger, Willis etc... come and go with little impact on the story. The film feels forced every step of the way, like one big attempt to take the money of those who grew up watching these men beating villains senseless.

The script seems like Stallone originally started writing a parody of an action film, but changed his mind halfway through, thus resulting in a film trying to be serious and failing badly. But sadly, you'll find yourself laughing at the film instead of with it.
What is puzzling about the way the film was written, is that it is basically a film with no second act, we have a first act and a third act, but no second.
At first, Stallone and Statham go scouting on the island, run into trouble have a big fight ect... They then return to base, where they meander around for a while doing nothing of interest. Then they return to the island and engage in the final battle. Surely there should have been something in between the scouting mission and the final battle?
The whole plot is structured in a similarly perplexing fashion, there are numerous sub plots which count among some of the most useless I've ever seen in a film.

On top of this, there are countless continuity errors, lines of dialogue that still leave me mystified (such as "Remember this shit on Christmas!" shouted when brutally killing enemies), terribly choreographed action sequences, appalling lighting, unfunny jokes combined with casual racism, hilariously obvious sets, use of green screen and CGI, only one female role in the whole film, and pretty much every action cliche you can think of.

And I won't even go into any details about Stallone's appearance, which I found to be quite terrifying.

But even if the script had been more skilfully written, it still would have been degraded by Stallone's awful directing. Why he feels the need to make it seem like the combat is going on between the character on screen and the cameraman, I will never understand.
Not one shot in this film caught my eye and made me appreciate it. Not a single one. I am starting to think that such a degree of awfulness could only be achieved if Stallone was actively trying to make this film bad and then of course laughing when it grossed over 250 million.

The films budget was reportedly around 80 Million, but the film seems like it was made on a budget of about 10 mil. Did most of the money go into satisfying the stars various ego's? If not then why does the film look like a poorly made Van Damme film?
With a budget this big and a cast of unknown but talented actors who could be paid a more reasonable amount, this could have been a very good film. Of course the script would need to be completely rewritten and another director hired etc, so basically if this was a completely different film in every way, it could have been a good film.

All in all, The Expendables in a money grabber of the most despicable nature. It sums up all of the things I hate about these kind of Hollywood films.
What I found particularly offensive about the film though, was it's attitude, I know it may seems strange to speak of a film's attitude, but it is something I generally notice. Here it was like the film was daring the viewer not to think it was cool, not to be impressed by the explosions and vast amount of faceless foreigners killed in creative fashions. It seemed to assume the audience were completely stupid and easy to impress and I found this offensive.
It seemed to revel it's in own self-perceived "coolness" (big bikes, big muscles, big guns, tattoos etc) to an extent that quickly became obnoxious.

So as I hoped you have guessed, I wouldn't recommend this film. I don't no why my reaction to it was so overpoweringly negative, but it must of just struck a nerve.
I wouldn't even say it's due to my snobbishness that I hated this, because although I am a snob to some extent and will admit it, I also have no problem watching and enjoying films like Face/Off or Con Air (which I enjoyed more in a "so bad it's good fashion" to be honest).

I realise this was not a real review, more of a rant I suppose, but I feel like I summed up my feelings on this film well enough. Hope you don't mind the lack of objectivity and plot summaries and such...

What are your thoughts on this film? Agree with me, hate it even more that I did (if that is possible) or maybe you liked it and in that case don't hesitate to disagree with me, just post your arguments in favour of this film below and I'll be sure to respond.

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