“The Expendables” Might Not Be
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
As I get up in years, I like the idea of someone taking some of my old action heroes out of mothballs, dusting them off, and letting them show that we older guys still know how to kick butt.
That’s exactly what Sylvester Stallone does with “The Expendables.” He could have called it “Rambo V,” given its testosterone-driven plot.
“The Expendables” is currently wreaking havoc at the Tropic Cinema.
Barney Ross (Stallone) leads a team of mercenaries on a mission to South America to overthrow a ruthless dictator. Expect plenty of bullets, explosions, and he-man derring-do.
Assembled for this action extravaganza are Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Jet Li, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Randy “The Natural” Couture, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, and Jason Statham. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis turn up for uncredited appearances.
Tough guys have to stick together.
If “The Expendables” seems like a flashback, that’s deliberate. “Yes, it's a 1980s movie with today’s technology,” admits Stallone. “But in those days, the female leading character was a helpless girl, waiting to be rescued by the hero. Now we have a very strong female character that evolved to this form while I was writing the script. But except for this, yes, it's a 1980s movie.”
The lasses in this outing include Charisma Carpenter, whom you’ve seen kicking supernatural butt in TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Gisele Itié, a Mexican-born Brazilian actress (whom Stallone describes as “the tough one who likes to fight”).
As for himself, looking a bit doughy at age 64, Stallone says, “I don’t fight no one. (laughs). I just fight in my movies, never in real life. I’m getting too old for that, hurting myself all the time.”
Some of his co-stars remain scrappers. “What I’m trying to do,” says Sly, “is show you that, like a good fighter, in the ring is where they are most comfortable. Outside the ring, they’re actually floundering around. They cannot master their own life. So what I try to do with these men who look invulnerable is that every one of them has a view to play. I don't care how much muscle you have, you can still have that flaw, that human touch. That thing that makes us all want to be liked.”
How did Stallone recruit so many big-deal action heroes who have never before appeared on screen together? “You try to write parts that interest them and appeal to their sense of competition,” he says. “You just have to get their interest, that's all.”
However, getting them to work together was “unbelievably difficult.” Stallone is quick to point out, “You have five or six action men. They all have to be served; they all need their equal time. And that’s very, very consuming.”
Almost as if describing a last hurrah, Stallone turns philosophical. “Action heroes have gone through this metamorphosis. After World War II there was a sense of ‘We now have to find the new kind of man, the John Wayne kind of character, the Lee Marvin, the post war kind of guy – strong, silent, having been somewhat brutalized by the situation. Then you went to Dirty Harry, which became more of an urban situation, not so much having gone through some kind of turmoil and the government that is war.
“Then my generation came along, which are kind of the action guys, but they are not really affiliated with anything, maybe Vietnam, so they all have a complex. They’re America’s outcasts. Then you have the new action hero, which is subject to technology and CGI.
“Now the pendulum has swung around, where you are rediscovering the very physical alpha male. But all the baggage that comes along with trying to deal in a PC world. Let’s say we just dug up the Wild Bunch. Gave them one more shot. These guys don’t fit in this kind of world; they are the Expendables, that is why they are called that.”
The movie’s tagline describes them as “The Toughest Crew of the Century.” To nostalgic action fans, they just might be.
[from Solares Hill]