As I crept into the crowded theater, I glanced around, noting that it was mostly junior high boys and their fathers occupying the seats around me. Before departing for the theater, I inquired about the premise of the film from a male friend. “It’s a guy movie,” he told me. Though that comment received an epic eye-roll, I endeavored to keep an open mind and found myself sorely disappointed.
The newly released movie “The Expendables” was boldly marketed on the backs of its stars. Famed action movie heroes Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li unite to create what can only be described as 90 minutes of confusing, stereotypical monotony highlighted only by laughable cameos from action film veterans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.
The acting was bad and the dialogue was worse. The plot, what I could make of it, surrounds a group of men known as The Expendables, an elite group of trained mercenaries. A mission to topple a South American dictatorship goes awry when their local contact is arrested and Statham and Stallone’s characters barely escape alive. We’re never told what South American country we are in although if we were we’d barely be able to make it out through Stallone’s indecipherable mumbling. However, Stallone’s romantic interest in their contact was piqued upon introduction because she is conveniently played by a beautiful yet helpless native woman. The men return home with instructions to abandon the mission. Resolved to play the part of the hero and alpha-male, Stallone gallantly refuses to leave her to her fate at the hands of greedy American businessmen and corrupt officials. Not shockingly, they succeed in rescuing her, liberating the town and everything ends fine and dandy with the men throwing knives, revving motorcycles and driving into the night to the ’76 tune ‘The Boys are Back in Town.’ It’s essentially what I expected when I heard Sylvester Stallone was directing and starring in the film.
Aside from the giant strides we have made in gender equality these past few decades, the entertainment industry seems content to employ antiquated clichés for entertainment’s sake where the man plays the savior and the woman plays the damsel in distress. As far as I’m concerned, although it may have been appealing to a male audience, it failed to redeem itself for women who are looking to be portrayed as more than a prop on a patriarchal stage.
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Release date: August 13
Running time: 103 minutes
Main cast members: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundagren, Eric Roberts