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Early Reviews: The Expendables

by Anne Thompson
August 4, 2010 7:57 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

The two trades are split on the new action flick The Expendables, which I have been avoiding like the plague--clearly I am not in the target male demo. Interestingly, THR's Sheri Linden finds the testosterone fest worthwhile, while Variety's Peter Debruge does not. UPDATE: Time Out London does not mince words:

If ever a test case were required to prove the theory that shit in quote marks is still shit, this is it. ‘The Expendables’ is a sluggish, derivative, witless farrago which is laser-targeted to the nostalgia set and would surely have gone straight to DVD were it not for Stallone’s recent run at the box office with belated sequels to his ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rambo’ franchises.

More review snippets are on the jump.

THR:

An effective mix of lean and over-the-top, "The Expendables" is often preposterous, but it achieves the immediacy of a graphic novel without the overdone mythology…Americans are both heroes and villains in "The Expendables," which avoids political specifics while embracing brute force as righteous retribution -- and shows the bad guys resorting to waterboarding. It can be an uneasy mix, but mostly it's played on too broad a scale to take seriously. DP Jeffrey Kimball frames the action for kinetic impact and velocity. The extended fight scenes deliver the easy catharsis of straight-up violence, all with a comic-book sense of pow and splat.

Variety:

When the movie isn't in fight mode (and be warned, it's as gratuitous with futile plot- and character-building scenes as it is with gore), its chief running gag involves getting the characters to hurl insults at one another -- the idea being that auds will enjoy watching these guys lob locker-room taunts as much as the cast appreciated having the chance to tease one another. (While age and ego are prime targets, no one dares make fun of how Stallone runs or the fact that we practically need subtitles to decipher all those heavy accents.) The best line is lobbed at Arnold Schwarzenegger, who turns up with Bruce Willis for an informal Planet Hollywood reunion…[the] approach might've worked had the editors assembled all that footage in such a way that we could tell where characters are in relation to one another or what's going on. While Brian Tyler's temp-sounding score beats its drums and blows its horns in support, pic crams sequences of rapidly cut, high-energy moments down our throats, such that the effect begins to resemble the waterboarding Sandra's character endures in one particularly unpleasant scene. With "The Expendables," Stallone certainly makes the point that Hollywood wouldn't be the same without these action heroes. As for their big group effort? Not so indispensable.

4 Comments

  • ashley | August 9, 2010 1:10 AMReply

    Have you guys seen Stallone blow YouTube to shit?! This is freakin awesome! http://bit.ly/agQnqq

  • Tommy | August 7, 2010 8:32 AMReply

    Actually, Sylvester Stallone has proven himself time and time again as a competent, versatile, diverse and exceptionally talented actor whose roots are in dramatic work (he spent the 1970s doing nothing BUT dramatic work--i.e. Rocky, Rocky II, F.I.S.T., Paradise Alley, The Lords of Flatbush, etc) and has done other dramatic films such as Lock Up, Copland, etc.

    I grow exceptionally tired of people viewing him and his work through the uninformed, juvenile and ignorant media, which paints nothing but an exaggerated caricature. Action films are not simply mindless violence-drenched, shallow films. It does not take an arthouse film containing characters who are bloated by their sense of self importance, going on pseudo-intellectual rants about existentialism or promoting some leftist political agenda or angle, in order to be a great film. A simple story does not constitute bad cinema. A fast paced story with strong characters and performances is deserving of the same amount of respect as a serious drama.

  • Sid Arfaan | August 6, 2010 11:55 AMReply

    you cannot compare works of art or expect life changing messages in a film like this. If you go in a mindset as if you expect to watch 'The Shawshank Redemption' - you will be disappointed. I always knew that Stallone wasn't the best of actors in Hollywood, but his movies were enjoyable for one reason only - action. You can clearly see the hammed dialogue, poor performances, badly written script - but amongst this mess is great action, cheesy one-liners, loads of henchmen killed in senselessly violent ways. A lot of these bad reviews bring to mind an example of comparing the art of Vincent Van Gough to the animation of Matt Groening.

  • Sergio | August 5, 2010 2:58 AMReply

    I know, I know it's gona suck but I NEED something.....PLEASE! I need a GUY'S MOVIE Not something made for coke bottle glaases virgin geeks or teenage girls. I wanna see guys being MEN!

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