The Expendables 1 Review: There are some scenes that were great not because of the action
A CIA operative hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent.
The Expendables (Biet Doi Danh Thue) is, to use the clichéd phrase, a big dumb action film. However, it’s not as dumb as you think and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the great action films it references it’s still pretty enjoyable.
The cast is all pretty diverse and they all have their own personalities making them distinguishable from one another; plus the group has good chemistry together. I mean you could tell these guys were good friends but for the longest time this felt like The Sly and Stath Show. Everyone got their big moment and everyone had that one kick-ass scene. But most of them occur in the final act during the attack on the compound; up until that point it was just Sly, Stath and a little bit of Jet Li thrown in. It’s not really a problem but I wished this would’ve been more of an ensemble piece.
The villains are also good and they have an interesting dynamic between them. Garza is a General that’s overthrown a government thanks to the help of Eric Robert’s Munroe. Robert’s puts in a slimy, treacherous turn as Munroe. The man that doesn’t blink an eye at backstabbing and torture. It’s his detached nature that begins the separation of Garza and Munroe that only intensifies when Garza’s daughter Sandra becomes involved and the two men have differing opinions on how to deal with her. I’m glad they gave Sandra a connection to the villains and that that affected the plot because otherwise she would’ve just been some random useless love interest. Also I’d like to give props to Dolph Lundgren. His role has trigger happy junkie Gunner was pretty good and his one liner insults did raise a chuckle.
“What do you wear, size 3? Bring it happy feet.”
Of course we’re not here for great acting; we’re here for kick-ass fight scenes and explosions. And there are a lot of them, not enough so that you can’t tell one from another but enough so that you know this IS an action film. And they’re all done incredibly well. From the small stuff like Sylvester Stallone’s hand-to-hand fight with Steve Austin to the big set pieces like the plane’s attack on the dock with Jason Statham hanging out the nose of the plane firing elephant sized bullets and burning the soldiers like paper. The final assault on the compound is reminiscent of the finale of Commando. And while this film is a lot more believable than Commando it doesn’t share the same lunacy that made that film great.
There are even some scenes that were great not because of the action. But because of the amount of testosterone in the room. The infamous church scene with Sylvester Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger was great because seeing these three behemoths of action all together in one room trading insults and playing off each other all made for a good watch, possibly even better than watching them beat each other up. The movie stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li
But the film does have its faults, the plot, while not paper thin, isn’t that deep (But I can let it off for that). And the action scenes relied too heavily on C.G.I., not all the time. It did use explosions quite liberally but for some of the blood splatter and even fire at a few points it was pretty noticeably that it was C.G.I. and that took something out of the film.