The Expendables - 14th August 2010

The night I saw this film started with The Expendables, ended with a midnight screening of The Blues Brothers and wedged between these two fantastic yet fairly different films was a trip to Lombardi's for some of the best calzones I have ever had. To describe this as a perfect night would be an understatement. 

Not sure I had grinned that much in a long time.  

I think it was at the point when Sly Stallone, flying an enormous cargo plane with front mounted machine guns and Jason Statham, controlling those guns, his little bald dome, complete with shades, sticking ludicrously out of a hatch in the nose of the plane took out the entire port of a small South American island in an eruption of flames, noise and manly air punches that The Expendables instantly became my film of 2010 and that wasn't more than about 20 minutes into the movie.
There aren't enough joyous swearwords in the world to exclaim how BRILLIANT this film is. 
Yes, ok, so the film looks like what might happen after a severe accident at a plastic surgery clinic, run by a seriously deranged ex-wrestler, if they suddenly gave all their patients ridiculously enormous artillery and despatched them to the Gulf of Mexico but that is entirely part of the exuberant joy of this movie!
Plus Mickey Rourke does more acting with a clay pipe and his hideously deformed lips than De Niro has managed in a decade.

The Expendables is seriously the sort of film that I miss because they hardly ever make them like this any more. It was so refreshing too. Apart from the odd guilty pleasure like Taken, I feel like I haven't seen a seriously good action movie since maybe Kill Bill 1 and even that was over hyped. Superhero movies don't count, I'm sorry, I know they have action in them but they also have ridiculous, over-the-top angst engulfed, soap operatic, preachy stretches about the nature of humanity and all that whiny, emotional plodding about. That's not to say The Expendables doesn't have character development, it does, more, dare I say it, than Inception or Avatar but it is done by the people involved actually acting their characters (which is a novel idea) and in fact the only person who says more than a handful of comically mumbled one liners is Mickey Rourke and it's a genuinely affecting and awesome scene.

On a quick side note, considering they are based on 'comic' books it's litteraly amazing how seriously most comic book movies take themselves. Mind-blowingly staggering now that I think about it. This is not a crime that The Expendables can be accused of as every line visibly drips and reeks of tongue-in-cheek, lads-own adventure tomfoolery and a healthy sense of irony dashed with a yearning for former glory days.

But enough of all that analytical mumbo jumbo, what about the violence and the action I hear you cry! Well it is some of the most inventive, frantic, exciting, funny, fantastically over the top and watchable violence possibly of all time. 

Made me realise just how atrocious other movies are in general at the moment and also made me realise just how god awful Tarantino is these days.
The action and dialogue in this was better than Inglorious Basterds and the car chase better than 50 Death Proofs combined. 
(I honestly can't believe Kurt Russell turned this down! his agents should be dragged out to a field and beaten to death with a frozen chicken for not thrusting this into his hand and screaming 'Do this now or never eat lunch in this town again!')
I stick this film in with the likes of Rambo 3, Cobra & Tango & Cash as some of the most enjoyable Stallone has EVER been. It doesn't have the classic stature of a Rocky or a First Blood but it doesn't aim for that. This is a classic of a different kind, one that, like Taken, I will get out and watch time and time again to feel good and have a blast.

Now about the cast, it is a bit of a hodge podge of old action stars, Stallones old fast food buddies and ex-wrestlers all of whom are fine, if not occasionally underused. Thinking about this film again (and reading about Kurt Russel declining to be a part of it) there are any number of other people that some may have on their wish list for a man-fest such as this. Bruce Campbell, Fred Williamson, Kurt Russell, Keith David, Steven Segal and Van Damme would be some of mine, with a Charlie Sheen cameo because, well, every film needs a Charlie Sheen cameo. (who would you pick??)
I think, considering the sheer size of the cast (both in number and bi-cep size) I actually feel Stallone did a good job of giving each of them their moment to shine. Yes, some had a shorter time to shine than others but as ensemble movies go I didn't feel short changed by any of them. My big applause goes out to Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham and Eric Roberts as particularly good in their roles.
I have been racking my noggin trying to see if there was anything about this film that I didn't like and apart from the fact that he used the same song twice on the soundtrack, when there are any number of heavy country rock anthems he could have used, I don't think there was. It is going to take some special film to knock this off my top spot for the year and the year is almost over. I am so glad it's doing really well at the box office, it shows, more than Inceptions success shows, that people are sick of the same old child-friendly, spoon-feeding bilge that we've been showered in lately.
Bring on The Expendables Two: Mission to Moscow!!

10 out of 10 freshly squeezed orange juices
Points from the Misses - 9 out of 10 freshly squeezed orange juices

The Blues Brothers - 14th August 2010

The Other Guys - 8th August 2010