Posts tagged Bruce Willis
Hello readers! Hope everyone had a Happy Valentine’s Day. My “Weekend Movie Preview” column this week features reviews of the Bruce Willis action flick “A Good Day to Die Hard,” and the young-adult romance “Beautiful Creatures.”
Click here to read my thoughts on both movies.
If Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys” had a child, it would be Rian Johnson’s “Looper.” Johnson’s third feature melds the film noir influences, sleek aesthetics, and dystopian themes from “Blade Runner” with the time travel elements, world-saving mission, and difficult ethical questions from “12 Monkeys.” The resulting medley is a thought-provoking sci-fi drama which will stick with you long after you leave the theater.
Leading up to its release “The Expendables” made some bold announcements about the star power of its cast, touting the big three: Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis under one roof. Despite Willis and Schwarzenegger’s appearances being nothing more than cameos, Stallone also played up the presence of other giants of the genre like Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Steve Austin. Instead of creating a compelling action movie with all these stars though, Stallone “is just here” running this film on autopilot. He fails to utilize the potential of these actors in favor of churning out a mediocre product that he knows will make money because of the names involved.
The title team, which includes Barney Ross (Stallone), Lee Christmas (Statham), Ying Yang (Li), Gunner (Lundgren), Toll Road (Couture), and Hale Cesear (Crews) is introduced as a gang of highly skilled ex-military men for hire that go to the highest bidder. We know that one of them is a drug user, but we don’t know what drugs he does or even why he does them. This member is kicked to the curb, while the others consider a new job that involves assasinating the brutal Latin American dictator of an island. After Ross and Christmas travel to the island to scout the mission, the men discover that things are more complicated than they seem; American businessmen are bankrolling the dictator so that they can exploit the island’s natural resources.
An encounter with a local woman who risks her life to help them escape, inspires Barney to liberate the people from captivity. He easily convinces his teammates to return with him, even though there is no money involved in this venture. Once the men set foot on the island again , the bad guys are enveloped in a hailstorm of bullets, explosions, and knives.
“The Expendables” lacks the very minimal character development that belongs in an action movie. Giant questions remain unanswered such as who these people are, why they are friends, what they have been through together, and why they continue do what they do. The only characters that get back story are arguably second string: Jason Statham’s Lee Christmas and Mickey Rourke’s Tool. Statham’s romantic story is bland and uninteresting; however Rourke’s remorseful soldier actually has some weight. You get a chance to see the emotional impact that the mercenary life has on Tool’s conscience.
Another reason “The Expendables” disappoints aside from weak characters, is the lack of jaw dropping action sequences. It does not really deliver the epic explosions and the high body count consistently, waiting until the final act to go wild. Even then the battle is not well shot or cut, amounting to a shaky mess. The one thing that does work to Stallone’s credit in this movie is that it’s effects are as old school as its actors. Very little if any CG is used in the film, producing a more realistic gritty experience for the viewer.
My Grade: C-