Bob Balaban's dark comic horror about a young boy suspecting his suburban parents to be cannibals
On Film4: 7 Dec 12:40AM
Various muscular old men blow things up, shoot things down and cut people up.
On paper, The Expendables sounded like it could be a must-see. When the trailer came out, it still seemed like it could be a must-see, to be filed under guilty pleasures. It's only when you watch it that the bargain basement desperation infusing the project seeps in and you file the whole thing under disappointing missed chances instead.
Let there be no mistake: an action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone was a fantastic idea for a film. That film has not been made. This is a film starring Stallone and Jason Statham, and to be honest, the film belongs to Statham, who (possibly along with Jet Li) is the only one of the ensemble cast who doesn't come off like a long-faded beauty primping herself for one last moment in the spotlight (think Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, only unlike Gloria, these guys actually got to shoot the movie). And no, the fact that that they know it doesn't somehow make this ok, and yes, that goes for Bruce and Arnie in the nonsensical cameos that the disingenuous advertising for The Expendables is trying to pretend are proper roles.
There's really little point in getting into the plot in this one, save only to note that while the idea of a good-old fashioned '80s style action movie has mileage, it feels pretty uncomfortable watching our heroes intervene in the political fortunes of a small oppressed nation the only way they know how: by blowing up large swathes of it. They could have saved money and borrowed stock footage from Vietnam.
Most reasonable people can understand the need to have a support group for elderly action heroes who want to relive the glory years. But did they really have to release it as a film? Unnecessary.
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