Your Blu-Ray player can’t get any manlier than when it’s spinning “The Expendables.” Sylvester Stallone’s action extravaganza is the manliest man’s man movie ever made for mankind. Your muscles expand just from watching. It doesn’t have a brain in its well-oiled body, but who needs smarts when your pores are exuding this much fun?
When the first song you hear is by Georgia Satellites, you know this all-star vehicle makes no bones about keeping its boots firmly planted in the mud of the 1980s. That’s when many of its actors “ Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis “ ruled the roost of socko cinema. To show you what a difference a couple of decades makes, my fifth-grade daughter walked by and said, “Hey, that’s the governor of California! What’s he doing in a movie?”
I’m old. We all are.
That’s likely why Stallone brought a few of today’s big guns “ namely, Jason Statham and Jet Li “ to help bridge the gap in the simple story of a team of mercenaries hired to help quash a South American dictator (David Zayas of TV’s “Dexter”) who’s merely the marionette of a moral-free American businessman (Eric Roberts, relishing his slimeball role).
Although the rather effective marketing campaign makes “Expendables” seem like a Justice League of GHB, it’s mostly Stallone and Statham doing the heavy lifting, with Li a distant third, and lesser names like Steve Austin, Terry Crews and Randy Couture essentially turning in extended cameos. That’s not a criticism, as some personalities are stronger than others.
Stallone’s made many missteps in his career, but with recent successful relaunches of his “Rambo” and “Rocky” franchises, and now this especially, he seems to realize his strengths and limitations. He’s firmly within his comfort zone here, and dishes out the goods “ explosions, shootouts, chases, one-liners “ with unapologetic aplomb. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not the target audience: those weaned on multiple VHS rentals of “Commando” and “First Blood.”
Watching the Blu-ray in “Ultimate Recon Mode” includes further footage on an inset screen and A/V commentary from Stallone, who comes off a far more intelligent man than he allows himself to play on screen.
Good! Because no one wants to think while watching “The Expendables,” and you’re not asked to. Can’t wait for the sequel. “Rod Lott