Expendables, The – A Movie Review

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Sep 122010

A group of mercenaries is hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator. Once the mission begins, the men realize things aren’t quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. With their mission thwarted and an innocent life in danger, the men struggle with an even tougher challenge — one that threatens to destroy this band of brothers. Barney Ross is a man with nothing to lose. Fearless and void of emotion, he is the leader, the sage and the strategist of this tight-knit band of men who live on the fringe. His only attachment is to his pickup truck, his seaplane and his team of loyal modern-day warriors. His is a true cynic who describes what he does as “removing those hard to get at stains.” The team behind him is made up of Lee Christmas, former SAS and a savant with anything that has a blade; Yin Yang, a master at close-quarter combat; Hale Caesar, who has known Barney for ten years and is a long-barrel weapons specialist; Toll Road, a skilled demolitions expert and considered the intellect of the group; and Gunnar Jensen, a combat veteran and an expert in precision sniping who struggles with his own demons. When the mysterious Church offers Barney a job no one else would take, Barney and his team embark on what appears to be a routine mission: overthrow General Gaza, the murderous dictator of the small island country of Vilena and end the years of death and destruction inflicted on its people. On a reconnaissance mission to Vilena, Barney and Christmas meet their contact Sandra, a local freedom-fighter with a dark secret. They also come to learn who their true enemy is: rogue ex-CIA operative James Monroe and his henchman Paine. When things go terribly wrong, Barney and Christmas are forced to leave Sandra behind, essentially giving her a death sentence. Haunted by this failure, Barney convinces the team to return to Vilena to rescue the hostage and finish the job he started. And to perhaps save a soul: his own.

Genres: Action/Adventure and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.; Release Date: August 13th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language.

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

I tried to take the past week off. One of the things I like to do when I take time off is go see a movie in the afternoon. Somehow it’s a great feeling of playing hooky. It definitely makes me feel like I’m off. I elected to go see The Expendables, as Lay wasn’t interested. That would make him the smarter of the two of us.

It is a typical action film. If you’re expecting any sort of Oscar Award performances or screenplay, you will be disappointed. If you want to see typical and predictable action, this film offers about as much as any.

Barney Ross (Stallone) leads the his mercenary group ‘The Expendables’ across the globe, taking care of hostage situations, government reorganizations and all manner of dubious military undertakings. His right hand man, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), helps run the crew and has an ongoing debate with Barney regarding Lee’s penchant for knives vs. Barney’s love of guns. To round out the crew there is the martial arts specialist who is constantly (and inexplicably) asking for more money, Ying Yang (Jet Li), Toll Road (Randy Couture), the automatic shotgun toting Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), the possible junkie giant, Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and the retired patriarch,Tool (Mickey Rourke). They are going up against General Garza (David Zayas) who is backed by the mysterious James Monroe (Eric Roberts) and his hulking bodyguard, Paine (THE Stone Cold Steve Austin). Usually I wouldn’t go through the entire cast, but so much of the little enjoyment in the film is realizing ‘HEY, I know that actor from before, in my childhood!’

The film is nothing if not violent, with bodies exploding, cars riddled with bullets and many, many throats getting knifed. Unfortunately, for a film that is so manically driven, none of the action seems fresh. The martial arts feel redundant, the Mexican stand-offs predictable in their lunacy, the explosions so commonplace they become yawn inducing. Even the ‘casual banter in a high tension situation because they are so professional’ gimmick wears painfully thin.

So, it’s probably best to wait until you can get it at a Redbox, and don’t have any high expectations, and it could be fun to watch.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 10)

Death Race – A Movie Review

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Sep 062008

Death Race Movie PosterTerminal Island, New York: 2020. Overcrowding in the U.S. penal system has reached a breaking point. Prisons have been turned over to a monolithic Weyland Corporation, which sees jails full of thugs as an opportunity for televised sport. Adrenalized inmates, a global audience hungry for violence and a spectacular, enclosed arena come together to form the ‘Death Race’, the world’s biggest, most brutal sporting event. Five-time NASCAR champion Jensen Ames is a man who has become an expert at survival. After eight years of hard time, he has only six weeks before reuniting with his family. But when Weyland demands a driver to headline the big game, Ames is forced to submit. Donning the costume of mythical rider Frankenstein, the racer becomes an instant crowd favorite, an unequaled sporting superstar. His face hidden by a metallic black mask, one convict will be put through a brutal three day challenge, with the trophy being the ultimate prize: freedom. The only catch is that he must survive a gauntlet of the most vicious criminals in this post-industrial wasteland to claim it. Driving a monster car outfitted with machine guns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers, Ames must now kill or be killed to win the most treacherous spectator sport on Earth: ‘Death Race’.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller, Remake and Sports

Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.; Release Date: August 22nd, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language.

Cast: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie Martinez

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson

Despite the rating, we took Lay’s nephews to see this knowing they would like the action and the modified cars. It was nothing worse than they see in some of their video games. It turned out better than I expected. Sometimes a movie is made to be simply entertaining…not critically acclaimed. But even this movie had its share of solid acting perfomances, and a simple storyline, which is key to any action film. It’s not bogged down with stupid one-liners…its a little cleaver..but doesn’t take itself seriously. The action sequences were well done, and there was plenty of violence and bloodshed… What more do you want from a rated “R” flick? If you want substance, go to something else, but just for an action movie, Death Race is not terrible.

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The Bank Job – A Movie Review

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Jul 292008

The Bank JobA car dealer with a dodgy past and new family, Terry has always avoided major-league scams. But when Martine, a beautiful model from his old neighborhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street, Terry recognizes the opportunity of a lifetime. Martine targets a roomful of safe deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewelry. But Terry and his crew don’t realize the boxes also contain a treasure trove of dirty secrets – secrets that will thrust them into a deadly web of corruption and illicit scandal that spans London’s criminal underworld, the highest echelons of the British government, and the Royal Family itself…the true story of a heist gone wrong…in all the right ways. 

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.; Release Date: March 7th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language.

Cast: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner

Directed by: Roger Donaldson

Movies that entertain and are worth the price of admission all have one thing in common,a Good Story! This is an entertaining story that is adequately written, acted and directed. For an almost 2 hour film it keeps your attention. It wasn’t the best bank robbery movie I have ever seen, but if you like these kind of films, this one is worth seeing.

I am not too big a Jason Statham fan, but he is right at home in a film such as this. Donaldson moves his story along with an obvious knowledge of the many heist films of the past, using all the classic elements that worked very well back then and still work now, such as  the double cross, of which there are many, and of course the obligatory characters, all of whom have their own special skills. Saffron Burrows is fantastic as the love interest, and the rest of the cast shines as well. Though it is difficult at first to tell just what exactly is going on, the film quickly kicks into high gear the moment the heist goes underway, and from that point on the film is essentially a very well made and exciting exercise in the classic B movie bank robbery scenario.

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