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THE F*CKING BLACK SHEEP: The Expendables (2010)

06.10.2011by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

The Expendables (2010)
Directed by Sylvester Stallone

“The Expendables is a paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up without anything to really care about beyond the incredible reward of seeing stars together!”

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, straight up man-on-man action flicks were the guaranteed testosterone infused events of the summer. But as heroes like Stallone and Schwarzenegger got older, Hollywood could only find suitable replacements, not anyone to surpass them. In turn, the action movie stalled, downgrading to modest grossing movies (unless, of course, it has people wearing masks). So fast-forward to last summer where Stallone recruited most of his AARP buddies to join him in a throwback film. Back to a day when jokes and bullets flew at the same rate. Where blood flowed like booze at a Hasselhoff keg party. Where muscle size mattered as much as…muscle size (can’t think of a good metaphor there).

Stallone’s idea worked, grossing over $270 mil worldwide. Damn good for a “dead” genre. In fact, it was one of the few movies I really looked forward to that summer. When the credits rolled, however, I walked away disappointed and never figured out why. So I decided to rent it again. The result? Eh. Still a bit of a turkey. My beef? The Expendables is a paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up without anything to really care about beyond the incredible reward of seeing stars together!

Push pause for a second. I know action movies are always paper-thin excuses for a shoot em up. I’m not that dumb. However, even Cobra or Tango and Cash or Assassins or whatever left room to develop a character. Here, Stallone shoved so many characters up our collective asses that he left no room for development. We might be given about a moment or two with Jason Statham’s character and his woman, but those feel forced. He’s really the only character we see outside the group, but why? He ain’t the main character, and if he is, he doesn’t feel like. It reminds me of the shitfest of Batman and Robin, the poster child for character excess. You can only throw in so many people and never give them a moment longer than 30 seconds before its an overdose. Its eye candy of the worst kind like a hot psychotic chick with multiple personalities. I get that Stallone wanted to include all his buddies. I guess that he was inspired by Predator for the group dynamic, but Predator worked because of the villain and the clear-cut Austrian lead. Stallone has neither here.

Pause again. I’ve always been a Stallone fan. Unlike Van Damme or Snipes, I felt sorry for the dude when he started making direct to DVD fare. It was a sad day. I loved his comebacks with Rocky and Rambo, solid films that showed Stallone is at his best when in charge of his own destiny. That’s why I wanted this to be a badass movie, the ultimate man action experience. Instead, everything plays cheap. For a throwback flick, the action here seems awfully CGI. Yeah, I get it that it might be easier or whatever, but it defeats the purpose much like those Grindhouse movies. If you want a movie to look like it was done on the cheap, do it on the cheap. If you want old school action with exploding squids and all, do it. F*ck the computer blood. It seriously irritates the hell out of me. At the same time, I can’t pinpoint when the shaky action cam came into movies (Gladiator perhaps?), but it’s time to ban it. Instead of actually being able to see your favorite hero punch some fool in the face, we get a never still camera, which avoids allowing the audience to watch the action. To me it shows they can’t do it anymore.

Performance wise, I can’t bitch too much. Stallone looks completely rejuvenated here. Dude is in his sixties and makes me feel bad about myself. Seriously, I need to buy a dumbbell or something. Dolph Lundgren is the real standout and shows he has deserved better for a long time. Eric Roberts is entertaining as the villain as well as Stone Cold as his number two. Statham does his usual Statham thing while Jet Li is utterly wasted. Seriously, why was he even in this movie? What a waste of his time. Rouke demonstrates that he can add life any character, no matter how stupidly thin. He adds the only element of character growth. Shame he only had about two or three scenes.

I don’t hate this film, but I feel it came up beyond short of what it could have been. Here’s hoping Stallone cuts out a few characters (Statham/Li) and lets the old guys do their thing in Expendables 2: The Search for More Money. Kurt Russell anyone? Disagree? Get the DVD and discover for yourself.

GET THE EXPENDABLES DVD HERE

GET THE EXPENDABLES BLU RAY HERE

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+0
9:57AM on 06/10/2011
“The Expendables is a paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up without anything to really care about beyond the incredible reward of seeing stars together!”

Couldn't have said it any better myself. Hats off to you my friend. I felt the same way.
“The Expendables is a paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up without anything to really care about beyond the incredible reward of seeing stars together!”

Couldn't have said it any better myself. Hats off to you my friend. I felt the same way.
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+0
10:03AM on 06/10/2011

Totally agree

The movie was no where as epic as it should have been. Wasn't even good. In a movie called The Expendables, I felt a least one character (I kind of wanted most of them) to die.
The movie was no where as epic as it should have been. Wasn't even good. In a movie called The Expendables, I felt a least one character (I kind of wanted most of them) to die.
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10:28AM on 06/10/2011
"paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up" I agree, but that didn't come close in tarnishing the ride. It has as much character development as say Missing in Action. If I mucho crave fleshed out peeps in a gun movie, I'll check out Platoon again.
"paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up" I agree, but that didn't come close in tarnishing the ride. It has as much character development as say Missing in Action. If I mucho crave fleshed out peeps in a gun movie, I'll check out Platoon again.
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10:47AM on 06/10/2011
Jet Li was WAAAAAAAY underused, and i loved the way he kept asking for a raise. the flick wasn't anything that i hated, but i felt this turkey was overstuffed with characters.
Jet Li was WAAAAAAAY underused, and i loved the way he kept asking for a raise. the flick wasn't anything that i hated, but i felt this turkey was overstuffed with characters.
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-2
12:46PM on 06/10/2011

I think you completely missed the point of the movie

not to mention Black Sheep? I'm pretty sure a lot of people didn't like The Expendables...

Anyway yeah, I have no idea what you are talking about... regardless of what you've said you must've been expecting Apocalypse Now or something from the way you're talking. This is an old school action movie and it's brilliantly done and brilliantly fun. In no way is it paper thin, but I'm not saying it's The King's Speech -- but then again it's not trying to be, at all. There are plenty of
not to mention Black Sheep? I'm pretty sure a lot of people didn't like The Expendables...

Anyway yeah, I have no idea what you are talking about... regardless of what you've said you must've been expecting Apocalypse Now or something from the way you're talking. This is an old school action movie and it's brilliantly done and brilliantly fun. In no way is it paper thin, but I'm not saying it's The King's Speech -- but then again it's not trying to be, at all. There are plenty of multi-layered characters and the plot is simplistic yeah, but that's half the point of this throwback. For action fans, this is the movie we wanted, this is the movie we expected and that is the movie we got. Can't wait for number 2.

Totally disagree with you here pal.
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12:52PM on 06/10/2011

Sorry but...

This movie didn't try to sell itself as anything other than a brainless shoot em up', and on that front, it totally delivered!
This movie didn't try to sell itself as anything other than a brainless shoot em up', and on that front, it totally delivered!
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-3
3:12PM on 06/10/2011
I'm with you. I was actually quite bored with this film, save for the final scene. It tried to sell itself as a straight up action film, and then ended up throwing in so much drama that less than half of this film was the action is promised to deliver. It should have taken a cue from Commando. Forget about all the sappy drama, throw in a simple goal for our characters to achieve and let them go achieve it. We don't need a 15 minute scene of Stallone and Rourke talking about BS while Rourke
I'm with you. I was actually quite bored with this film, save for the final scene. It tried to sell itself as a straight up action film, and then ended up throwing in so much drama that less than half of this film was the action is promised to deliver. It should have taken a cue from Commando. Forget about all the sappy drama, throw in a simple goal for our characters to achieve and let them go achieve it. We don't need a 15 minute scene of Stallone and Rourke talking about BS while Rourke tries to cry.
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3:48PM on 06/10/2011

Flawed but entertaining.

It was better then G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra and Live Free or Die Hard.
It was better then G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra and Live Free or Die Hard.
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-2
4:52PM on 06/10/2011

It was ok

I wasn´t great because of the flaws you wrote about but it was a step into the right direction, back to the day of near invicible, trashtalking, big gun toting badasses and to the day of R-rated action flicks. Were the "Bourne"-movie action and story-wise better than this? You bet! But they were not as much fun!
I wasn´t great because of the flaws you wrote about but it was a step into the right direction, back to the day of near invicible, trashtalking, big gun toting badasses and to the day of R-rated action flicks. Were the "Bourne"-movie action and story-wise better than this? You bet! But they were not as much fun!
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5:36PM on 06/10/2011
Wack
Wack
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1:36PM on 06/11/2011
I admit I may not be the biggest fan of the '80s beefcake action, but I still enjoy a good Guys on a Mission movie, and this one started off with promise, but failed to make me care about anyone except Jason Statham and Jet Li. Statham, because he wants to leave, and Li because he doesn't get any respect, in every sense of the word. And when all was said and done, and I got to thinking it over, this was a waste of a kick-ass title. There are great movies where characters sacrifice themselves
I admit I may not be the biggest fan of the '80s beefcake action, but I still enjoy a good Guys on a Mission movie, and this one started off with promise, but failed to make me care about anyone except Jason Statham and Jet Li. Statham, because he wants to leave, and Li because he doesn't get any respect, in every sense of the word. And when all was said and done, and I got to thinking it over, this was a waste of a kick-ass title. There are great movies where characters sacrifice themselves for the team, and if Stallone just gave up Randy Couture, it would've upped the ante. The movie is fun while you watch it, but nothing about it ever made me think I needed to see it again. A really good "paper-thin excuse for a shoot em up" can still do that. There were two or three entertaining action sequences, but that final battle is too dark and indecipherable. And they wasted Terry Crews.
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+1
12:20AM on 06/12/2011
I kinda of agree with most of this. Jet Li was underused, and I could done without Lundgren as well. The whole chase scene with him in the middle of the movie felt like a distraction from the main plot.

Here's what Expendables 2 needs:

* Snappier writing. The movie was filled with big-time action stars but it was painfully short on those classic one-liners we all love.
* A plot the characters can pursue from beginning to end. Don't give them time to stop an rest, or get distracted by
I kinda of agree with most of this. Jet Li was underused, and I could done without Lundgren as well. The whole chase scene with him in the middle of the movie felt like a distraction from the main plot.

Here's what Expendables 2 needs:

* Snappier writing. The movie was filled with big-time action stars but it was painfully short on those classic one-liners we all love.
* A plot the characters can pursue from beginning to end. Don't give them time to stop an rest, or get distracted by superfluous scenes (see previously mentioned Lundgren chase)
* If you're gonna put Mickey Roarke in your movie, have him actually do something other than sitting alone in a bar delivering depressing monologues.
* Less night time action sequences. Learn from the lesson the first Hulk movie all taught us.
* More Terry Crews, because he's awesome.
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+2
2:08AM on 06/12/2011
I didn't want them all to die because
I disliked them, but I felt it would have made a more emotional impact. They kept labeling it as a suicide mission yet they all come out unscathed? I know they were supposed to be the ultimae group of badasses, but them (with the exception of one) dying would have made it a lot more enjoyable, a la the original Predator.
I didn't want them all to die because
I disliked them, but I felt it would have made a more emotional impact. They kept labeling it as a suicide mission yet they all come out unscathed? I know they were supposed to be the ultimae group of badasses, but them (with the exception of one) dying would have made it a lot more enjoyable, a la the original Predator.
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9:52PM on 06/12/2011
Shaky cam can work if used correctly, other than that I fully agree, especially when you said "If you want a movie to look like it was done on the cheap, do it on the cheap. If you want old school action with exploding squids and all, do it." that was my biggest problem with it, it was hard to follow the action.
Shaky cam can work if used correctly, other than that I fully agree, especially when you said "If you want a movie to look like it was done on the cheap, do it on the cheap. If you want old school action with exploding squids and all, do it." that was my biggest problem with it, it was hard to follow the action.
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11:14AM on 06/13/2011
Shaky Cam gotta go and The Rock instead of Terry. jet Li is as much a veteran to action as the rest are and in fact has more action movies than most of the other so that was an irrelevant statement
Shaky Cam gotta go and The Rock instead of Terry. jet Li is as much a veteran to action as the rest are and in fact has more action movies than most of the other so that was an irrelevant statement
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8:01PM on 06/13/2011
Yeah, the shaky camera act has gotten old real fast. People continue to moan and groan about it, but somehow it is still frequently used. I also agree about the poor character arc in the film. Why was Statham given more development? His relationship scenes seemed way out of place. The beefed up cast was a great idea, but it's just too much to tackle in 100 minutes. I'd like to see Stallone slim the cast down and give more concentration to a smaller cast. Lastly, I'd love Kurt Russell to
Yeah, the shaky camera act has gotten old real fast. People continue to moan and groan about it, but somehow it is still frequently used. I also agree about the poor character arc in the film. Why was Statham given more development? His relationship scenes seemed way out of place. The beefed up cast was a great idea, but it's just too much to tackle in 100 minutes. I'd like to see Stallone slim the cast down and give more concentration to a smaller cast. Lastly, I'd love Kurt Russell to jump on board ;)
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2:54AM on 06/14/2011
Are you fucking kidding me...you're bashing the expendables?! It's a blow em up shoot em up action that felt thin blah blah wahhhh. I think you're forgetting the awesomeness of this movie. With a low budget I give Stallone unbelievable props for pulling this off writing, directing, and starring looking as unbelievable as he does. You think it's easy getting a cast like that together?! Sure it's easy once it's been done to nit pick. You have no idea what he went through to make it, what he
Are you fucking kidding me...you're bashing the expendables?! It's a blow em up shoot em up action that felt thin blah blah wahhhh. I think you're forgetting the awesomeness of this movie. With a low budget I give Stallone unbelievable props for pulling this off writing, directing, and starring looking as unbelievable as he does. You think it's easy getting a cast like that together?! Sure it's easy once it's been done to nit pick. You have no idea what he went through to make it, what he may have wanted to do but couldn't do to budget/studio restraints and I'm sorry exactly which blockbuster film have you written directed and starred in? I'm sorry which one? Yeah that's what I thought. Sly did what every great director did, he made the most out of a little. This movie, as you included in your artcile, made top dollar, the crowd I saw it with cheered and for me personally I felt like a kid in a candy store. Also this film deserves major credit for not using any of the cheap shit gimmicks most movies use now such as: it is not a 3D film, it's not a remake, and it's not based on a comic book. Expendables rules. Rewatch it, stop being so fucking critical and just enjoy it for what it is. Awesome.
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