Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Expendables

Sylvester Stallone speaks directly to lower brain functions. He understands that an action movie can have an outline rather than a plot; that how you dress this frame can more than compensate for a lack of any so-called higher artistic aspirations. The Expendables' base is your standard buddy black op. An elite pack of psychopaths must unlawfully invade a Latin country suffering a crackpot dictatorship and tear everything apart. For spice, the weak-piss Generalissimo is backed by ex-CIA heavies, with abilities that mirror our heroes, looking for somewhere tropical to get their coca crop grown.

Continuing the body horror thread the director hit upon in Rambo, Stallone's Expendables is dressed with traumatic ultra-violence. The film is often concerned with how easily a body can be pulverised until it resembles nothing at all. Accordingly, each of the mission men is assigned a ruinous superpower: Stallone is a quick-hand pistolero; Jason Statham a shuriken sniper; Jet Li a wushu bushwhacker; Randy Couture is a tumbling MMA bone snapper.

Terry Crews becomes an instant action icon thanks to a spot demoing the latest in combat shotgun technology. Crews role spins like a embedded teaser trailer for a one-man army franchise audiences are sure to demand. Nobody is marginalised. Everybody gets a moment and an admiring close-up. Stallone shoots deep-focus faces, daring you to stare at the canyons and crevices lived into these frowned up fizzogs. Stallone's eye is loving and sympathetic, particularly when regarding the brooding confusion of Dolph Lundgren, a satellite crew member who gets a metatext encore. Sylvester Stallone, an actor's director, who knew?

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