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The 80’s action genre is a simple one. Paper thin plot, charismatic one liners, and a lot of over the top macho action. And of course, who would know this better than 80’s action movie legend, Sylvester Stallone, right? Well, apparently not. This is one of the most disappointing films I’ve ever seen, and that includes that crappy movie with Jet Li and Jackie Chan in it and a stupid name I can’t ever remember. This movie is supposedly a homage to that 80’s action genre, and yet it lacks all 3 of its essential ingredients. It’s an absolute affront to the genre and everyone to have ever been involved in it.

Let’s start easy. The Expendables are a group of mercenaries composed of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and those other people in that poster, except Steve Austin and Bruce Willis. Willis gives them a job to kill some people (including Austin) on some island, and after a bunch of drama, they go and do it. And that’s the problem. Why is there drama? What, is Stallone getting senile and forgot that he and everyone else in this movie can’t act to save their life? (besides Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke, of course, but their roles in the movie are so minor that they’re insignificant) The first 80 minutes of the movie is almost entirely drama and dialogue, where people change motives and facial expressions nonsensically, and ultimately, pointlessly.

But dialogue isn’t always a bad thing. Dialogue was what made Commando an instant classic. And yet, that charisma just isn’t there. The one liners are few and far in between, and they’re delivered with no charisma at all. Everyone sounds old, tired, bored, and boring besides Li. Sadly, he had about 10 lines for the whole movie. Even Mickey Rourke, who was lively enough for Iron Man 2, seems to have lost his energy for this movie, sounding much closer to his character in The Wrestler. That wouldn’t be bad if this was actually a drama, and if he wasn’t only in the movie for about 10 minutes. Except this isn’t a drama, and no one cares about him cuz his role in the movie is some pointless retired expendable who runs a tattoo parlor and adds nothing to the movie whatsoever.

Thanks to his old age, Stallone suddenly thinks he’s Pulp Fiction era Quentin Tarantino, and has replaced the classic one liner dialogues with long, extended, “complicated” discussions about completely irrelevant subjects. Let’s face it, Stallone was a great action hero, but he couldn’t write good dialogue if his life depended on it. What you get instead are long drawn out conversations about nothing delivered in a tiresome, tedious, and boring manner for 80 minutes.

And yet, I kept watching. Being an action movie of course, there has to be action, and I knew ahead of time from other reviews that this all happens in the last 20 minutes. RottenTomatoes has described it as hard hitting, but should hit harder with the cast. I don’t particularly agree. In fact, the action never hit at all. I even dare say that the atrocious AVP:Requiem had better action than this. At least that movie had decent looking special effects. Like AVP:R, almost all the action is shot by a cameraman suffering from epileptic seizures with a compulsive editor who isn’t satisfied with less than 10 cuts every second. Also like AVP:R, everyone is wearing all black and all the action takes place in the dead of night. The result is that, while there may be a lot of action happening somewhere and it MIGHT even be good, the fact of the matter is the audience can’t see jack shit.

And the special effects, my god. You’ll occasionally see some really cheap looking CGI blood that looks like it came straight out of the SNES port of Street Fighter II, and rarer still you’ll see some even worse CGI gore that makes the Genesis port of Mortal Kombat look like a Saw movie. The CGI explosions make the ones in direct to DVD Steven Seagal flicks look like Avatar. The effects in this look even worse than those in Last Action Hero, and that movie’s 16 years old and was a parody anyways, and it didn’t even work out there. And yet, Stallone somehow managed to delude himself into thinking that he can make crappy special effects work in his movie, and in the end, it’s us viewers who pay the price for it. Fans of this movie will say it’s part of the homage to the 80’s, and that really tells you a lot about what it takes to enjoy this movie, considering that, well, you know, CGI wasn’t prominent yet back in the 80’s. I’m not even sure if it was even invented yet. This is more a homage to Seagal direct to DVD movies if anything.

There’s also the amount of explosions. Yes, explosions are generally fun…just not when you try to fit about 60 of them in 20 minutes. It reminds of this one time a long time ago I asked my parents to buy more veggies, and they bought 5 pounds of it and tried to make me eat it all in one sitting. That’s what the explosions in this feels like. It deprives you of them until you’re begging for something to blow up, but long before the explosions are over, you’re already wishing you’ll never have to see another explosion again as long as you live.

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But enough about its shortcomings. The movie isn’t ALL bad. Like I said, Jet Li’s one liners are actually decent. There’s also 1 or 2 other chuckles lost in this mess somewhere. Surprisingly, Jason Statham’s fight scenes are actually quite entertaining. It’s not so much his awesome moves, mind you, but for some reason, he’s the only one who had fight scenes that don’t take place in the dark with everyone dressed in all black with camera and editing work so spaztastic that it may as well be an ink blot test. But let’s not quibble over merits, I’ve always hated Statham, but I enjoyed his fight scenes in this movie nonetheless.

Sadly, everything else besides that small bit was pretty much unwatchable.

VERDICT: 1.2/10

The Expendables is an 80’s action movie homage bloated with bad testosterone drama, sorely lacking in humor and charisma, and finishes with what is best described as “abstract shadows” served with a side of the crappiest CGI you’ll ever see in your life. The best I can say about this movie is that it’s a cut above your average recent direct to DVD Steven Seagal flick. And, well, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s DVDs are usually at least 2 cuts above…so yeah, this movie is pretty much just marginally better than watching paint peel. Speaking of which, before this movie came out, I questioned JCVD and Vin Diesel’s decisions to not be in this movie. Now that I’ve seen what the movie ended up as, I totally respect their decision. Sure, they could’ve came in to pick up a fairly fat pay check like everyone else, but it would’ve been a pay check they paid for with their dignity.

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the stars in this movie (except Statham, never liked him…though strangely he was my favorite character in this movie), but honestly, this is easily the worst movie any of them has ever been a part of.

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