I had an extremely busy working weekend. On Sunday night, to clear my head, I said I wanted to do something that would require the least brain power possible. So my girlfriend and I went to see "The Expendables".
I was not disappointed. It had the simplest plot this side of "Ass" in Idiocracy... the longest multisyllabic word in the script was, fittingly, "expendable"... and there were enough explosions to entertain the illegitimate love child of Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer.
Anyway, the movie featured 10 famous action stars... and Eric Roberts. Each one participates in various levels of ass kicking throughout the movie. In lieu of a review, I decided to put together this Power Rankings-esque summary of the stars of the movie.
There are spoilers here, although this movie is like the anti-"Wild Things" (or its highbrow equivalent "The Departed") in terms of plot twists, so there's not all that much to spoil.
Jason Statham. As much as this thing was marketed as an ensemble piece, there were a few people who were clearly the leads. Jason Statham was one of them. (This isn't ass kicking related, more ass pounding related, but he's also the only character who has a romantic storyline. Or even deals with a woman on something other than a platonic level.)
He definitely kicks the most ass the movie -- he beats up several guys with his fists, kills dozens of others from close and far away thanks to his knife-throwing and -slashing skills, and uses a variety of weapons to gun down troops on the evil island of Vilena. (Yes the evil country is named Vilena. I guess Badguysland was too obvious.) No one else in the movie has that trifecta, not even the boss.
Sylvester Stallone. He wrote, directed and starred in the movie and also happens to be in basically every single scene -- meaning he had the most ass kicking opportunities of anyone in the cast.
Before I get into the explanation of why he's number two, let me just start off by saying: Say what you will about the guy, but he's in insanely good shape. Insanely good. He's the most ripped 64-year-old I've ever seen. He makes Jack Lalanne look like Dusty Rhodes.
But... I ranked him below Jason Statham for two reasons. One, he relies exclusively on guns, while Statham also uses much more badass knives. Also, in Stallone's one-on-one, hand-to-hand fight against Stone Cold Steve Austin, he gets some decent shots in, but ends up losing. (He might've been too concerned directing the scene to completely hide their height difference.) You can't lose a fight to Stone Cold and be ranked number one. Otherwise the entire McMahon family could rank on this list.
Dolph Lundgren. I personally would've preferred if he was a super-smart, super-ripped scientist and his character's name was Dr. Dolph Lundgren, but this way was good too.
He plays a member of the Expendables who goes rogue and turns on them. He chops someone in half at the waist with a shotgun blast, wins two hand-to-hand fights against Jet Li and can only be stopped when Stallone shoots him.
Terry Crews. Even though he's by far the most ripped of the Expendable crew, I can't remember him ever getting into a fistfight throughout the movie. Fortunately, he does the best weapons work in the movie, including a scene where he uses an extra-loud gun to comically massacre almost an entire Vilenese army platoon.
It was a tough call for this spot between him and Randy Couture, but I lean toward Terry Crews because his character was made out to be crazier. Kind of a mix between his characters in "Idiocracy" and "White Chicks". (For more on my longtime love affair with "White Chicks", try searching for it up in the navigation bar. I will continue to defend that movie forever.)
Randy Couture. He may seem like the least exciting of the Expendable crew -- and definitely doesn't have that many signature moments, other than talking about his cauliflower ear -- but at least he gets to murder Stone Cold when they fight by tossing him into a ring of fire.
Jet Li. Pretty poor showing for Jet Li, considering that he's one of the three actors who were credited above the title (Stallone and Statham being the others). Yes, he does some good work during the climax, both with fighting and weapons -- but he gets overpowered by Dolph Lundgren on two separate occasions and has to have Stallone step in both times to save his life. No one above him on this list loses two fights. To his credit, Jet Li does get in a few of the funnier jokes in the movie, even if his delivery is a carbon copy of the Jackie Chan "Rush Hour" playbook.
Eric Roberts. He doesn't do any actual fighting, but he does shoot some people... he orchestrates a totalitarian army that really roughs up a bunch of the Vilenese shopkeepers and children... and he waterboards a chick. (If only they'd transplanted that part into his sister's movie from the same opening weekend. I would've seen "Eat Pray Love" if, at some point, while Julia Roberts was giggling about eating pasta and seeing guys' dongs, someone popped up and started waterboarding her. Plus "Eat Pray Love Waterboard" has such a better ring to it.)
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Really rough showing for Stone Cold. After following around Eric Roberts like a puppy all movie long he can barely beat a 64-year-old man in a fight... and then he makes pro wrestling's biggest insecurity come to light when Randy Couture easily MMAs him to death. Frankly, the only solid punch Austin lands all movie is on a woman.
Bruce Willis. He was in one scene. He did not fight a single person. But he beat out the other two high-profile cameos below because at least his character was the impetus for all the violence in the film (and he doesn't cry about it in the process).
Mickey Rourke. Here's what Mickey Rourke does in this movie. One: Inks some tattoos. Two: Throws a few knives at a target. Three: Delivers a heartfelt monologue where he cries. Cries. I wanted Tom Hanks to make an even more shocking cameo at that moment, walk on screen and yell at him: "Are you crying? Are you crying? There's no crying! There's no crying in underground mercenary guerrilla warfare!"
Arnold Schwarzenegger. At this point in his acting career, I think he's more skilled at governing.
This post was originally published on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Movies.