Hi all...We all want to hear what is said about The Expendables so lets get straight to what Just Dave has said...
There is a conversation you have with people in which the question of ‘what makes a perfect film?’ arises. Whilst you can call a film ‘perfect’, you still can’t call it ‘flawless’. This movie that Sylvester Stallone has co written and directed is a flawed one. It has errors for sure, and quite a few of them. No film can be ‘flawless’, but some can do several things so incredibly well that the flaws are overridden.
I think it all boils down to what the film is intending to do, and how well it does it.
With ‘The Expendables’ Stallone has solely intended to do the 1980’s action film justice - making it as ‘balls to the wall’ as possible and exhilarating. With this picture the intention is so clear and so well executed that I’m going to call the film perfect. I hesitated for a while on this call, especially with Inception still raging behind cinema doors, but it has been a day since I’ve seen ‘The Expendables’ I slept on it, and I still feel that it’s perfect.
Sylvester Stallone has come along way since his heyday - being the 1980’s superstar that he was; with the ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rambo’ franchises. He is a true action cinema icon. With a late career slump; he managed to pull himself out of fan and critical derision in the last few years by revitalizing his status of an icon. He did this with the 2006 ‘Rocky Balboa’ and the 2008 ‘Rambo’, and in many ways he was not just rejuvenating his own career, but bringing action cinema away from its current Computer effects/ PG-13 rated manifestation and revitalizing that too, and now with ‘The Expendables’ I think he has brought it full circle.
The film is bat-shit insane in it’s action, almost entirely practical and amazing in its audaciousness.
Many think that bringing a ‘genre’ back is a matter of being self referential and nostalgic; like the slew of recent blockbusters Ie. ‘Kick-ass’ and whatnot, but Stallone just understands his audience and craft so well that he just lets his true passion of it all come out. The film isn’t self- referential, it is comical and it purposefully recaptures the 1980’s cheese of one liners and ridiculous action - but it’s never sly and knowing of itself; it never seems to parody the ‘golden age of action’...it just seems to be from that era.
From the way it is shot (even from the the wonderful opening titles and their font and size) It’s just an 80’s action film, and I say that in the best possible way. If you don’t have an appreciation for that type of film, or the previous works of Stallone and the rest of the cast, then you just may be lost and confused with the flick.
The plot of the film is that Stallone plays Barney; the leader of a group of mercenaries hired to take out a drug cartel. You shouldn’t know more about the story because the film is very clever in its mis-direction and developments; and to take out the ‘surprise elements’ now would drain your enjoyment of the movie.
A lot has been made of the cast. It’s huge. Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, the movie stealing: Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke and some awesome cameos. Everyone in the film is pretty much perfect. With such a ginormous ensemble assembled and such a scale of action, it is pretty impressive that Stallone manages to imbibe each and every one of the cast with just enough character for them all to work. He meets a balance between character and action that is just so damn impressive.
The action is insanely good, and it is brutal. Just crazy, out there and you feel the pain that is brought and that is taken by the cast. Each scene manages to top the last, and man, can Stallone pace and shoot an action scene, it’s just incredible, the level of kinetic editing and choreography here rivals that of a John Woo film. I was very impressed with the film’s look, it is s shot with just as much grit, and is just as tough and rugged as its characters.
The music by Brian Tyler (Watchmen) works excellently - it’s not just a typical 80’s rip-off, it is typical 80’s. There are also quite a few ‘rockabilly’ hits, like songs from ‘Credence Clearwater Revival’ that fill the movie.
There is also an emotional current that runs throughout the film that is never overbearing, sentimental or maudlin. The thing about ‘The Expendables’ that sets it apart is just how damn entertaining it actually is. There are no pretensions behind the camera or in front of it. You can particularly feel this with the way the cast work together; everyone has this great chemistry with one another; and because they are clearly having so much fun, it just winds up being so contagious to the audience, well at least it was for myself.
Sylvester Stallone knows his art so well that there are no evident hold backs or hesitations (Stallone even Broke his neck making the movie - and he had a choice: 1) go to hospital and delay the movie or 2) finish the movie then go to hospital - so Stallone finished the movie on painkillers with a broken neck, then had a four hour operation - if that’s not passion and dedication I don’t know what is - he is in his 60’s for crying out loud!).
There are no stupid subplots or signs of studio interference. It is just the heart of Stallone put out there on the table for all to see, it is what he loves, what he stands for, and who he is... and if you don’t get it, than you can at least admire him for not holding back, you can at least admire him for being in his 60’s and still pulling this off. Stallone is the auteur we never really noticed.
And that’s why ‘The Expendables’ is a perfect film.