Sunday, September 19, 2010

Plot and script – expendable?

Actions films have changed, I realised as the handbag-clutching, middle-aged woman next to me cringed and gasped every time a baddie was ripped to shreds or slashed to death in some gruesome manner.

While Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action films in the eighties and nineties did exhibit their fair share of skiet, skop en donner, none of it compared to that exhibited in Sylvester Stallone’s newest offering, The Expendables. CGI has allowed Sly to wow audiences with highly realistic renderings of gratuitous gore. Obviously the violence is not on par with what you’d see in a Tarantino flick, but if you’re a member of the older generation hoping to be reacquainted with your favourite action stars, you may be in for a nasty surprise.

The film features a host of mostly aging action stars, including Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and Jet Li. The trailer would have you believe that Schwarzenegger and Willis also have major roles, when in fact they only have about four minutes of screen-time.

The plot is relatively straight-forward: Stallone plays the leader of a band of highly-trained mercenaries who are called in to assassinate a drug-lord in a fictional South American country reminiscent of Cuba. The result is a fast-paced, thinly-plotted sequence of explosions, shooting, car chases, martial arts and bouncing (covered) boobies...

Yes, boys, that is literally all the hot damsel-in-distress action you’re getting out of this movie. The films’ female characters – Charisma Carpenter of Angel fame and Mexican beauty Giselle ItiĆ© – did little more than tease. Speaking of an anti-climax, the film also just fizzled out towards the end, leaving yours truly rather unsatisfied, too.

Like most of Stallone’s films, this one is quite devoid of humour – a few one-liners got a chuckle from the audience, and the sheer ridiculousness of some of the violence did elicit sniggers, but I can’t help making the comparison with Schwarzenegger’s older films and Willis’ Die Hard series, which offered more in the form of witty dialogue and a somewhat more developed plot.

So, if you’re looking for some slick camerawork that showcases over-the-top violence, massive explosions and bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat scenes well, give it a watch, but don’t go in expecting anything more...