I have seen the best film ever made. The only problem is that this wasn’t it. It is, however, an action movie that tries quite hard to make you believe it’s a spoof of an action movie – but I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way. Yes, there certainly will be people out there who will enjoy picking holes in this movie; the cheesey dialogue, the seemingly endless supply of bullets and grenades available to our heroes, a plot so thin you can see daylight through it and an array of über-macho blokes doing what the Americans so fittingly describe as ‘blowing shit up’. Did I like it? Yeah, of course I did.
This is how they should have made every single episode of The A-Team, although I doubt that the budget would have stretched to it. “But, but, it’s pointless and there are too many car chases and explosions to allow for character development” I hear the detractors say. So what? The characters are best left as two-dimensional, as I don’t really believe any kind of back story or psychological analysis would make the slightest difference. These are guys who kill and destroy as a business. And business is, if not good, certainly ticking over nicely.
The cast reads like a Who’s Who of the action movie genre – although fans of Bruce Willis and Governor Schwarzenegger will probably be disappointed at the length of time they actually get on screen. Willis was in the middle of filming (the really quite good) Cop Out (2010) at the time and it appears Arnie has other fish to fry. Fans of Mickey Rourke may also wonder if he just needed his rent paying, given that he’s hardly in the thick of it. Of the stars who appear for slightly longer than a mayfly’s wedding video, there are few surprises. OK, there are no surprises at all. There’s Sylvester Stallone (cigar, gravelly voice, incomprehensible), Jet Li (butt of linguistic jokes, Kung Fu), Dolph Lundgren (square-jawed Scandinavian psycho) and Jason Statham (British, handy with his fists, dubious accent). These core players are joined by such movie heavyweights (see what I did there?) as Randy Couture (who sounds like an erotic clothing label, but don’t tell him I said that), ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Terry Crews. It was never going to be Camus, was it?
So, onto the ‘plot’. Corrupt government of an imaginary Latin American island, FBI interference, pretty girl happens to the daughter of general, drugs, that sort of thing. It really doesn’t matter where it is or whom it involves, as the whole narrative (such as it is) serves to carry the set-piece fights, car chases, explosions and macho humour. There really is not much to say about the story depth as there is none. The camera work is as competent as it should be given such a huge budget and there are more than one or two proper laughs in what is a very spartan script. It’s an action movie, pure and simple. The special effects are, as you’d expect, superb, and the fighting nicely choreographed. I could tell you how it ends, and it’d hardly be classified as a spoiler. In short, if you like mindless escapism done well, you’ll have a blast with The Expendables. If you don’t, I suggest you don’t bother. It really is that simple.