Expendables is the kind of movie that was made for me. I’ve enjoyed 80s action movies for ages and also love a great super group. These movies are basically the marriage of those two things on screen and I can’t get enough of them. In fact, I posit that, due to its nature, Expendables might actually be the perfect movie franchise. But before getting into that, I want to talk about the sequel, which I finally watched the other night after a year of anticipation.
When the first movie came out back in 2010, I went and watched it by myself during the day and had a glorious time. Later that day my wife and I went to see Scott Pilgrim, making August 13, 2010 the first day I’d ever seen two movies in the theater the same day. I snatched the movie up on DVD as soon as I could and have watched it several times since. I even got the sequel on DVD before having even seen it, knowing I’d dig it. That was about two weeks ago, but I finally got around to watching it the other night and had a great time.
There were a few things that irked me a bit. The lack of Jet Li for one, almost all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hammy, movie-referencing lines, the unexplained nature of Chuck Norris’ appearance and a lack of a Jason Statham/Jean-Claude Van Damme fight were a few. And yet, I still loved this movie. Yes, they had to cut down on some of the fight scenes because of the added star power in the film, but overall, I thought this movie still packed more heart than expected (without feeling tacked on or forced, something many 80s and 90s action movies failed to do) while still offering plenty of fights, explosions, blades and blood to keep that part of my brain interested. For all that, it gets all the thumbs up.
While watching the movie, though, I realized that Expendables is the perfect movie franchise for a pair of reasons. On one hand, you’ve got the meta, real world purpose for the movie, which is, giving all these action stars — old and new — a place to get together and do their thing. Even if these guys start getting too old to kick ass on screen, retire or pass away, there will always be other guys ready to come in and join the squad as Hollywood’s never going to stop making action flicks.
But, it’s also a great franchise because of the nature of the in-story set up. These guys are mercenaries. Sure, Barney Ross seems to run things — or maybe Tool does, it’s hard to tell — but you could easily have him pass the torch on to someone else who will need to hire new guys. I say all this because, really, I want to see one of these movies every two to three years. It would be great if they could get all the guys to sign on and not deal with crazy scheduling conflicts (the reason Jet Li’s only in the beginning of the movie), but I’ll take what I can get. Let’s just lay off some of the cheesy callback lines, can we?