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Review by Muggins

Production: Who cares?
Spoiler Alert!

I am alone in a house full of testosterone; the only other female is the cat, who doesn’t usually get to choose the family viewing. On this particular night, we were celebrating hubby landing a new job. He came home with The Expendables along with our take away dinner. I sat down in front of the TV and the opening credits rolled up. Sylvester Stallone’s name kept on coming up – apparently he wrote, directed and starred in The Expendables. Oh joy. At that point in time I seriously thought about all the other things I could be doing in the next 110 minutes, like playing a computer game or reading a book. Or ironing. I sighed and resigned myself to watching a Sly movie.

At this point in time I should probably acknowledge that I have never watched a Rambo or Rocky movie. Not. Ever. The only Sly movie I have ever watched and enjoyed was Demolition Man. Witty dialogue, humorous product placement and Wesley Snipes as the villain carried Sly well, giving a tough guy movie broader appeal.

The Expendables opened with torches flashing around the darkened corridors of a boat, Sly and crew making sure they were spotted by the pirates from whom they were going to rescue hostages. The pirates decided $3 million wasn’t enough, so Sly and company had a fight in which Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), one of Sly’s crew, loses it and decides to break the rules with unnecessary killing (?) After a return to civilisation this guy was dumped from the crew.

Christmas (Jason Statham) stood out as the only actor in the main cast. Unfortunately his character development rested on his relationship with Lacy, played by Charisma Carpenter. While I liked Carpenter as Cordelia in Angel, I haven’t seen her play any other role convincingly. Bruce Willis was given equal credit on the cover with the main crew, even though his cameo was barely longer than Arnie’s. While I love Angel from Dexter, David Zayas needs speech therapy at minimum to become a convincing villain.

Wanted: a writer. Doesn’t have to be a good writer. Just needs a few firing neurons. The only wise crack I noticed throughout the movie (apart from the peanut gallery) was a comment that Arnie wanted to be president. At one point a bad guy was in flames and my teenage son (MTS) made a comment about stop, drop, roll. A good guy came along and punched the flaming guy out without making any comment; a perfect opportunity missed!

The Expendables was a Rambo-style movie with lots of gunfights, explosions and unconvincing special effects that the entire family enjoyed heckling throughout. There were a few fight scenes that hubby said were far less convincing than fight scenes in Legend of the Seeker. If the scenes in the city and at the wharf were real, civilians would have been massacred and yet poor ol’ Gunner was dumped because he wanted to hang a pirate! The plane would have crashed into the ocean due to lack of fuel after dumping it on the wharf to ignite it for no apparent reason. Gunner betrays Sly, then was shot 2 inches above his heart so as he lies dying he reveals the entire layout of the base to Sly – and then lives?! Oh wait – The Expendables II has been announced.

No-one made a body count, but my best guess is more than the first Rambo movie and less than the last one (not that I’ve seen it, but I keep an eye on commentaries). Sly returned to rescue the girl, who was young enough to be his granddaughter. Eew. The relationship was at least ambiguous, even without a big love scene.

At the close of the movie our cat went to her tray and made a particularly smelly deposit. I told MTS to deal with it (technically she’s his cat). Hubby cracked jokes about MTS throwing away Smokey’s review, to which MTS replied that it was not sufficiently dry to be an appropriate commentary. I think we all agreed it was sufficiently smelly.

MTS said The Expendables was bad but wasn’t bad enough to be as enjoyable as Titanic II. The Expendables will be enjoyed by fans of Rambo and Sylvester Stallone. And possibly by people who enjoy heckling.


This article was previously published in Dark Matter issue 3, April 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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