The Expendables

By contributor Patrick Zabriskie

Stars: ★☆☆☆

Summary: Unoriginal and unfullfilling, this movie is a jumbled and confusing mess.

At least this is a cool poster.

At least this is a cool poster.

Review: I think it’s become apparant though the films that James and I have reviewed that we aren’t just men, we’re guys. We like things like smoke, fire, guns, and brawls. And between the two of us we’ve given our opinions on quite a few action movies on The Silver Mirror. My point is that we have no problems with action movies as a legitimate genre of film and harbor no snobbish predjuce against them. We don’t have issues with them being a little cheesy, a little testosterone pumped, or having sightly ridiculous plots. That said, Sylvester Stallone’s latest picture, The Expendables, is an embarrassment to the very genre to which it claims to pay tribute.

I had mixed feelings about this film before it came out. I liked the idea of an ensemble cast of action stars joining together for one last Hurrah of machine guns and explosions. And when Stallone promised that Schwarzenneger and Willis would be a part of it, I found myself pretty excited. After all, Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenneger encompass the Holy Trinity of action stars. Still, I was skeptical about two things: What Schwarzenegger’s role would be, since he is still serving as governor of California, and how much over the top the actions scenes in these movies could get. Stallone’s last film, Rambo, set the bar pretty high for how ridiculous and chaotic and bullet ridden a film could get.

And after seeing The Expendables, I probably should have been more skeptical. The plot is paper thin and confusing. The main cast is one dimensional and unmemorable, uttering one-liners that are so cheesy you could use them as a dip for a party. In an attempt to top Rambo’s action, Stallone fills his movies to the brim with seemingly every kind of firearm, explosive, punch, and blade known to man. But that’s the problem, there was just so much of it that it numbed me up. It’s like getting beaten in the head: eventually you stop feeling anything. I actually found myself bored in the middle of the supposedly epic battle at the end. It’s a bad sign when even the action in an action film is boring.

But the worst part is, Willis and Schwarzenneger’s “roles” (literally 2 minute cameos if that long) were worthless and unfilling. They just kind of show up so that the audience can say, “Hey! Its Arnold and Willis!” and then leave. Few ripoffs have stung more for me.

In short, The Expendables is not the culmination of the best that action films have to offer. Rather, it’s the bottom of the barrel refuse that reminds audiences why a lot of them were so bad. Banging together pieces of metal, lighting off fireworks, firing a machine gun, and sticking a cardboard cut out of Sly’s face in the middle of it all for an hour and a half has the same effect, if not a better one, as watching this movie. It’s going to be a while before I can watch another action movie again.

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