Break out the popcorn for “The Expendables”

It seems like all I’ve been doing this summer is working. Whether actually at work or working on the house or working on someone’s computer, I haven’t had the time to check out anything in the theater … until today. “The Expendables” came out, and with as many laugh-out loud scenes that I had seen in the previews, I knew I had to check this one out. (To compound my interest, a friend saw a trailer that said “if testosterone and explosions mated, this movie would be the offspring.” How could I NOT see this flick?)

The movie starts out with Sylvester Stallone and his team (Jason Stetham, Jet Li, etc.) going to rescue a tanker crew from Somali pirates. Dolph Lundgren ends up being a loose cannon, and the carnage starts early with people being shot in half. This is a great way to set the tone for the movie, as the plot, dialogue and storyline are all about half-done, too. Well, Dolph’s misbehavior ends with him getting fired from the team. He comes back to ask Stallone for his job back, and Stallone tells him that he needs to get himself cleaned up (since he’s a junkie), which sets up the second half of the film. (No, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I’m sure you can figure it out.)

This is where they try to introduce a little story into the flick. Stetham goes to see his girl, but since he’s been gone for a month, she’s moved on to another guy. He leaves, and as he does, he tells her that the new guy is “no good.” And, of course, this sets up another part of the movie that is also easily predictable, down to the dialogue — but it also references something that all the guys on the team seem to have in common: problems with women. Mickey Rourke scores with hot 20-somethings, but is shocked when they don’t stick around. Stetham can’t get over the girl he just lost. Stallone doesn’t get what the big fuss is all about.

So, they eventually get asked to perform a new mission. Stallone meets up with Bruce Willis about the job, but Willis has thrown a little something into the mix … he asks the leader of another mercenary squad to join them to see who wants the job. In walks Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, after several barbs are thrown, Arnie opts out. Stallone has the job — to kill a general that overthrew a government.

Stallone and Stetham go to the small island nation … I guess to do a little recon. They fly around in the sea plane from “Tales of the Gold Monkey,” which is pretty inconspicuous in the fresh paint job and souped up engine. Well, they run afoul of the authorities, Sly finds love and so they do the only thing smitten mercenaries can do … kill 41 soldiers as they make their daring escape. They figure there’s more going on than meets the eye, so they want out of their contract with Willis.

After that, the story makes more attempts at having soul, and Mickey Rourke goes on a rambling diatribe about how he had one chance to help someone, but he didn’t. Stallone can’t get the woman he met out of his head, and so he opts to go back alone. But, the rest of the team won’t let him. And, of course, they seem to have forgotten that the bad guys still want them dead for their visitation.

What follows is filled with explosions, limbings and lots of shooting. At this point, I began to wonder if I had reverted to being 12 again, because you could see showdown fights being set up. Dolph vs. Jet Li. Stallone vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (who is the bodyguard of the main bad guy). Randy Coutre vs. Stone Cold. And the Old Spice guy (Terry Crews) and his automatic shotgun vs. everyone else. The CGI and stunts are outrageous, and I was stifling my laughter as it went on and on and on. Seriously, it was like I was watching Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman or Godzilla vs. Gamera all over again … except this time, there’d be a decisive winner. And lots and lots of CGI carnage. And by lots, I mean LOTS. Again, the only thing really missing is Jessie Ventura with a mini-gun, but the Old Spice guy may have taken over that spot with his auto-shotgun (and his memorable line: “You guys better remember this come Christmas!”)

Well, as you would expect, good triumphs, thousands die, there’s laughs over the boss’ corpse, and the good guys fly home to enjoy beers and comradery.

There’s nothing really new about his movie. No ground breaking anything. Just warmed-over actors with a warmed-over story. It’s epic in its cheesiness and its willingness to go where everyone has gone before. While the inside jokes often fall flat, their failure did make me laugh. But since you’re walking in to the theater pretty much assuming that this is going to be God’s gift to cheesy flicks, there’s really nothing to keep you from breaking out the popcorn and laughing your face off at what transpires.

3 out of 5 Old People


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