Written 8-14-10, First Published 8-22-12
Let me start by saying this: The idea behind the Expendables was a great one. Get every big name action hero ever on stage at the same time and have them club each other around for two hours, and in between spitting out teeth and coughing up blood, find the time to deliver some stunningly horrible one-liners. What could go wrong?
Our feature opens, as it rightfully should have, with a bunch of skinnies (Somalis) who have taken over some cruise ship dumb enough to sail through the Gulf of Aden and are holding the passengers hostage for money, or AIDS medicine, or food, or something. The Expendables, a mercenary group consisting of Sly Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture show up (in their obligatory tough-looking-for-God-knows-why black berets) to deliver the ransom money at gunpoint. When the skinny honcho tries to jerk them off for more money, Dolph, being all awesome and possibly racist, shoots the skinny… In half. The following scene has our boys smoking the rest of the dumbshit pirates, cumulating in Dolph, still unable to contain his booze-fueled stiffy for blood, tries to hang one of the pirates as a symbol. Jet Li responds by kicking Dolph in the face before they all board a beat-up prop plane and fly out of what is easily the shittiest place on Earth, boozing all the way.
And speaking of booze, a lot of it gets consumed during this film. Whenever the Expendables aren’t slaughtering minorities, they are getting shitfaced and smoking cigars, getting tattoos, listening to Creedence and talking shit to gaggles of sluts, and all sorts of other sweet manly clichés. These men are truly living the dream.
So what happens next? Our boys get a job offer from no one other than Bruce Willis himself. Enter Stallone, and enter his “rival” Trent Mauser, played by the equally masculine -named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Willis, as is his right, talks a lot of shit to both men before revealing he has a job for some hired guns. The job eventually goes to Stallone after Arnold tells Willis how to blow it out his ass. Stallone and his gang of merry pranksters are to, in the only way I can paraphrase it, take over some shitty Hispanic island in the middle of nowhere, because their ruler is a douche and he grows cocaine or something. Long story short, Stallone goes in, sets a bunch of people on fire, shacks up with the Dictator’s daughter, and then leaves. My tentative body count for this scene was 41. So many people get rocked so hard, that the only thing missing was that scene in Rambo 4 where the little kid gets his throat slit. They should have just edited that in randomly to show that they aren’t fucking around.
Anyway, it turns out the pussy dictator is getting jerked around by some CIA stiff who uses the entire country as a front to grow cocaine and get rich. Why I never thought of that as a profession before I’ll never know. Not to ruin the rest of the flick, as that is not the point of a movie review, the Expendables put on their berets, shoot a few hundred people, blow up buildings for little apparent reason, and save the day. In between such action, we have instances of domestic violence, Micky Rourke talking about pussy, and Jet Li beating the shit out of a strung out Dolph Lundgren who is literally twice his size. Now I don’t know about you, but the concept of a little Asian man whooping the shit out of some massive Swede is something I hold dear to my heart. This movie has everything a guy like me could want. Making fun of bald people, fully automatic shotguns, body parts flying through the air, a girl with a pair of Irish sunglasses, Stone Cold Steve Austin beating the shit out of Sly Stallone, waterboarding, and some dude gets punched in the face WHILE he is on fire.
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that is so enjoyable, so impactful, that it alters pop culture and creates a movement that millions of people latch on to, trying to emulate their favorite parts of whatever spawned the phenomenon in the first place. It is with deep sadness that I relay The Expendables is not one of these movies. But imagine for a moment if it was. If the only rules were the ones you forced upon others, where the man with the coolest mustache always comes out on top, a world where just for a brief period, everyone was awesome and knew kung fu. If The Expendables were a cultural movement and not just grade-A testosterone-dripping violence porn, t’would be a world I would never want to leave.