Action movies once upon a time were all about simple emotions like love and brotherhood. “The Expendables”, acted and directed by a veteran action superstar Sylvester Stallone, is one such feel-good, simple film.
“The Expendables” are a group of mercenaries who may not have a heart of gold, but are good humans nonetheless. After being hired to overthrow the dictator of a small island, the leader Barney (Stallone) and Lee (Jason Stratham) on a reconnaissance mission run into Sandra (Giselle Itié) a beautiful woman who cares for her people.
After an attempt is made on their lives by a team member gone rouge, Barney decides to go back to the island on a simple mission, saving his own soul by helping someone without any expectation of a payment i.e. as a gift.
There are the expected explosions, car chases, hand-to-hand combat, muscles, knives, guns, grenades, goons and a never say die attitude. What more can an action fan ask for?
A veteran in both the actor and direction chair, Stallone knows how to pack his film to be the perfect action film. He manages a casting coup of sorts with his main cast. Yet, the most awe-inspiring moment for any action buff worldwide, is the scene where Stallone’s arch-enemies for the action hero’s seat for decades, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Wills make a guest appearance.
Seeing the three superstars in one frame, would have brought tears to many fans worldwide. It is a dream come true, albeit a little late. But as it’s said – better late than never.
This scene is rife with tension, as the three stars’ careers were, with each threatening the other. When Arnold refuses a job and Wills wonders why, Stallone cheekily replies, ‘He wants to be president.’ The obvious pun would not have been missed by many.
Yet, the perfect dream of an action fan can be completed only if Stallone manages another coup, but somehow bringing in one frame two other action stars of his time – Steven Segal and Jean Claude Van Damme. Damn, that would be something.
There is obviously a sequel. And Mickey Rourke, who plays a small, but extremely well acted and significant part, would obviously have a greater role.
“The Expendables” maybe seen as a last ditch attempt of a yesteryears action superstar who gave such lovable movie franchisee like “Rocky” and “Rambo” to kick-start another. And going by the looks of it, he has succeeded.
Besides, Stallone in his career has overshadowed every other action star in the simple fact that unlike them, he also donned the directors hat, with an equal share of acclaim some failure. He dared to venture where few action stars had gone before.
Yet, the strain shows on Stallone. If you watch closely in every scene where he has to run, you’ll notice that it is no longer the straight, confident run of Rocky pulsating to “Gonna Fly Now”, but it is the run of a man way past his prime.
Yet, with this film, Stallone proves once again that like the character he made and that made him ‘Rocky’ he is not gonna give up without a good old, clean fight. He shows, that he maybe old, but he is far from being expendable. And that’s what action stars are all about.
Film: “The Expendables”;
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Giselle Itié, Steve Austin; .
Director: Sylvester Stallone;
Rating: *** and 1/2