When I was a kid, heroes were larger than life. They still are today only with just one exception albeit a pretty significant one… in those days, Men were Men. They weren't pretty but they exuded their God-given male born testosterone with every ounce of testicular sweat dripping on celluloid. For a boy growing up in the 80's they were the male role-models and father figures that inspired impressionable pre-adolescent boys into shaping their adult manhoods. Those were the days of yore.
The Expendables isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination but it knows exactly what it is trying to be and doesn't pull any punches. It tries to be the Magnificent Seven of the modern action movie but doesn't quite hit its mark. It's more like the Magnificent Four and a Half (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Austin, and Li). The rest of the ensemble more or less being, ahem… expendable. My friend and I once had a similar idea for a movie that would pit all of our favorite 80's action stars into one no-holds-barred-royal-rumble-
There is only one thing you need to know about the paint-by-numbers plot and that is this: These titans of manliness have all come here to chew bubble-gum and kick ass, and there is a whole lotta bubble gum to go around. When the blood and guts start flying it makes Peckinpah look like Walt Disney. If that is the kind of movie you are expecting to see you won't be disappointed. Perhaps the biggest fault with The Expendables is that it never quite lives up to itself. Arnold Schwarzenegger's cameo feels like it was thrown in just for the sake of having the three biggest 80's action icons together at last onscreen for a Hard Rock Cafe Kodak moment. It just feels like 'The Guvinator' shows up to give his quick endorsement before going back to the office. Fortunately Sly has much better things to do these days than bankrupting the state of Culifornia. I was never particularly a fan of so-called "professional" wrestling for all of its phoniness so guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin never really appealed to me but I'll take him and UFC's Randy Couture any day over any so-called leading male action star in Hollywood today just on sheer testosterone levels alone. At least Mickey Rourke showed that not all of professional wrestling is fake with "The Wrestler" but "Iron Man 2" hardly qualifies him as a bona fide action-star, more like Harley Davidson without the Marlboro Man. One look at his fugly face and you can see that his days of "9 1/2 Weeks" with the ladies are long over. Jason Statham is apparently the most masculine male action star Hollywood currently has to offer up and that's not saying too much with a resume consisting of "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," "Crank" and "The Transporter" series but I guess baldness apparently qualifies him in the testosterone brigade along with Bruce Willis whose days of headlining as an action star were washed up with the last "Die Hard." The truly expendable were those 80's action icons who didn't quite make the cut like Chuck Norris who for whatever reason was unable to attend Sly's little shindig. As a kid I probably watched every action film that Chuck starred in like "The Octagon," " Good guys Wear Black," "Lone Wolf McQuade" and "A Force of One." You can't think of the 80's without bringing up Chuck Norris, or the poseurs like Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal, all of whom are conspicuously MIA. Apparently Van Dammage was offered a part but he thought the script should have catered to his ego as well as a bigger paycheck so Sly made his part Expendable.
The Expendables is a fun salute to the 80's and a throwback to the days when action films weren't trying to be politically correct and were all about blowing shit up, flexing their muscles, delivering the one-liners, kicking ass and looking cool. To that end, The Expendables is a blast, but not a slam dunk. It's worth a matinee out of pure sake of nostalgia or a rental. If The Expendables accomplishes one thing other than winning the weekend box-office it should be this: To send a message to the studios that there is a hunger for masculine male action icons who are on the endangered species list and to ensure their survival in the 21st century which has been corrupted by forgettable momma's boys and blood sucking vampires of the Twilight generation.