Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Expendables”

Dear Frank,

Today, as I sit down to watch Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, I am at a crossroads. See, as you know, I consider myself to be a feminist (in terms of the definition: “I don’t think women are inferior to men and I don’t think they should be treated that way”). But I also have a deep, deep affection for stupid action movies and their heroes. I admire the films of Jet Li. I thoroughly enjoyed the latest Rambo. If I weren’t a delicate, chaste lady who’s never even heard of a “touch hutch,” Jason Statham would be in my touch hutch. My point is, I am about to watch a movie that features nearly every major action hero of the last twenty to thirty years, a movie that has no chance whatsoever of passing the Bechdel Test, and I am probably going to enjoy it quite a bit.

The movie starts pretty fast — there are some dudes being held captive by some other dudes on a boat, and then another group of dudes — our HERO DUDES, let’s be clear, appear to try and save the hostages. Dolph Lungren (this movie’s cast really is unbelievable) ignores Sly’s “don’t shoot people to death” warning and basically machine-guns off the main hostage-taker’s torso; more shooting ensues! Oh boy do duders die, Frank. In heat vision and everything!

But then the hostage scenario comes to a stand-off that includes Stallone and Statham (guys I really do love Statham please don’t judge me harshly) negotiating over which guys they each get to kill. Don’t worry — all the bad guys get killed. Except one, who Dolph wants to hang as a warning to “pirates,” but Jet Li says “nope” with his feet and fists!

It is, like, impossible to take a screenshot of Jet Li fighting. Dude moves FAST.

Dolph wins the fight, but Sly puts a gun to his head and makes him let him go. Inter-team conflict! How sad. It doesn’t stop Stallone from enjoying a cigar and a beer as he pilots their big tugboat of an airplane back home.

There, everyone disperses, and Statham goes off to see his lady friend Charisma Carpenter Cordelia! But Cordelia is with another man! I’m very very confused by this. How do you have sex with someone else after you’ve had sex with Jason Statham? Does not compute.

Fun fact: Statham’s character name is “Jim Christmas,” and they call him “Christmas” all the time. I have no fucking clue why they bothered with character names for this movie, for the record. I mean, I’m certainly not going to here.

Anyways, Bruce Willis (who is with the CIA I guess) hires Stallone to take out a general on an island we’ll just call Cocaine Island. It’s a scene you may remember because it’s also the scene from the trailers where Ahnuld, your friend and mine, shows up as well, and these three scions of film stand around for a few minutes swinging their dicks and cracking wise about each other. Stallone gets the final zing, as Schwarzenegger walks away: “What’s his fucking problem?” Bruce asks. “He wants to be president,” Stallone replies. HAHAHAH. Sorry Ahnuld, not gonna happen.

Anyways, mission time! Because Dolph’s a loose cannon or something, Stallone has to kick him out of the secret gun-for-hire club, and the other guys aren’t happy about the money they’re going to be getting, but ah well.

First, Stallone and Statham go down to the island to do recon — Statham wants to talk about his feelings, but Stallone is more interested in ogling their sexy lady contact! I really don’t understand all this rejection Statham is experiencing. I won’t reject you, Statham!

Anyways, Cocaine Island used to be a beautiful place, and then it got all druggy and now people get beat up all the time by Stone Cold Steve Austin and his gang of thugs, who are working with Eric Roberts to create a thriving cocaine industry on Cocaine Island in partnership with the general running the place.

Let me take a moment here to discuss Stone Cold Steve Austin. See, I am not a wrestling fan, but one time I watched an elimination ceremony from the WWE reality series Tough Enough, and it was in-fucking-credible. It was like watching Shakespeare. And it was entirely because of Stone Cold. So that is why I use his nickname. He has EARNED it.

Stallone, Statham and the hottie head out into the jungle for… some reason, I’m sure… but in the process get attacked by a whole bunch of soldiers! Don’t worry, there are over a dozen of them but Stallone and Statham easily kill them all with bullets and throwing knives and neck punches. It’s pretty rad.

Oh, and one of the soldiers reveals that the hottie is the general’s daughter! We don’t really have time to dwell on that, though, because we’re on the run now with the gang, hightailing it back to their plane. The hottie won’t come with them, though, because “this is where I belong,” so instead Statham and Stallone dump gasoline on the island dock from above and blow it up as they escape. Class move.

They didn’t blow up enough of Cocaine Island, though, because now it’s time for BETRAYAL! Dolph’s offering to give Eric Roberts and Stone Cold inside information on the secret gun-for-hire club. I’m sure this will go well for all involved.

Stallone and Statham get back and tell the team that the job is too dangerous and they’re not gonna do it. And then Statham goes back to Cordelia’s house because he won’t take no for an answer — but Cordelia’s glad to see him because she’s got a big ol’ bruise on her face from that douchebag she’s sleeping with instead of Statham did I already mention that I don’t understand how she could do that?

So Statham goes to find the douchebag, who’s playing basketball with his buddies. And there’s a whole bunch of punching and kicking! I like it when Statham kicks and punches people. He buttons it by stabbing the basketball with a knife and telling the douche that “Next time, I’ll deflate both your balls.” Then he and Cordelia ride off on a motorcycle together. Oh, Statham.

Back on Cocaine Island, there’s a lot of fighting and shit. And then Eric Roberts finds a picture the General’s Daughter painted that… means something? I don’t really know what’s going on. I think the General’s going to turn on Eric Roberts, though. He seems sad about all the fighting that cocaine has brought to Cocaine Island. I’m guessing this, because I don’t think he’s actually had a single line of dialog thus far.

This movie is surprisingly full of conversations about feelings! Right now, Mickey Rourke is talking about how being dumped sucks. I agree, Mickey Rourke! Oh, Mickey is also talking about how he could have saved this lady one time but didn’t and “it left a hole in my soul.” Academy Award Winner Mickey Rourke!

Stallone is clearly smitten with the General’s Daughter (ugh, every time I type that I think about that terrible fucking movie). Which is bad news for him, because Eric Roberts has figured out her role in everything and Stone Cold bitch-slaps her hard and then she gets water-boarded! Sucks to be her.

Stallone has no way of knowing about that, but Mickey’s moved him to go back to Cocaine Island and save her. He tells Statham and Jet Li that he’s going alone, but Jet Li won’t let him go alone because they’re frieeeeeeeeeeends. Also, it’s an opportunity for Jet Li to bitch about how because he’s smaller than the other guys he has to work harder and that’s why he needs more money. (Um, Jet, you are aware of the fact that you’re talking to Sylvester Stallone, right?) But right in the middle of Jet’s rant, Dolph and some of Eric Roberts’ cronies ambush them! Whoops! Lots of driving cars and shooting machine guns at each other ensue.

The cars all crash into a warehouse and then Jet Li and Dolph fight! It is a pretty good fight, made better by the fact that Dolph kicks it off by shouting “What do you wear, a size three? Bring it, Happy Feet!” A+ penguin movie reference, Dolph. Jet Li kicks like a mo-fo, but Dolph gets the advantage — that is, until Stallone shoots him! It’s kind of sad. He tells Dolph not to die. And so Dolph doesn’t. Hooray!

And then the whole team decides to join Stallone as they return to Cocaine Island. Hooray! And the General starts talking, telling Eric Roberts that his soldiers are loyal to him and demanding that Eric free his daughter. Eric says he will, but DON’T TRUST HIM GENERAL IT’S ERIC ROBERTS!

Stallone goes after the girl (saving her from rapists just in the nick of time, OF COURSE) while the other guys run around the General’s compound stealthily killing dudes and setting explosive charges. Stallone and the girl get nabbed running out the cell, and Stone Cold spends some time using his fists to ask Stallone who sent him, but the interrogation get cut off by Jet and Statham dropping in for a rescue! Jet and Statham? Very good at killing dudes together! It warms a girl’s heart.

The blur in this shot is Jet's leg coming down to break the neck of a bad guy that Statham is holding. As Tenacious D would sing, that's fuckin' teamwork.

Stallone and Stone Cold fight. It’s an okay fight, lots of throwing each other around, and Stone Cold pretty much wins but chooses to run away when he sees the giant machine gun Terry Crews is using to liquidate a whole bunch of the other soldiers.

The General and the General’s Daughter (ugh, that movie) are reunited and the General officially tells Eric Roberts to get the fuck off Cocaine Island, giving a big speech to his soldiers about it — which is rudely interrupted by Eric Roberts shooting him in the back. I TOLD YOU NOT TO TRUST HIM, GENERAL! Sigh. They never listen.

Complete chaos ensues, lots of shooting and blowing shit up. I’m honestly not sure what the strategy is, aside from this being a Stallone movie. In the middle of it, Eric Roberts and Stone Cold run away with a big bag of money and the General’s Daughter to a waiting helicopter — but Stallone and Terry blow it up with a big missile! Oh no Eric Roberts is trapped! What will he do? Hold a gun to the General’s Daughter’s head and rant about he and Stallone are “both the same — we’re both mercenaries! We’re both dead inside!”

Stallone’s like fuck that, I’m here for the girl, and shoots Eric Roberts to death. Hooray! Stallone gets a big hug for his trouble, leaving the girl behind to rebuild Cocaine Island and the gang flies back home. Fist bump!

And then, it’s time for a knife-throwing party! Dolph’s back in the gang. Statham makes up some poetry about how cool Mickey Roarke’s character is. And then they ride motorcycles as the credits roll and The Boys Are Back In Town plays. FIN.

When Expendables came out, Frank, I remember a lot people were complaining that it wasn’t quite the action all-star team-up it promised to be, especially given that a lot of folks, like Bruce or Mickey, were in very little of the movie. But look, even a little bit of Statham and Jet Li working together is aces in my book, and I’m always surprise by how efficient Stallone movies are (like I said, I found the latest Rambo thoroughly enjoyable, in a depressing sorry-about-that-Burma sort of way).

So, sure I wish that there was less murdering of faceless minorities. But beyond that, there’s really not too much to complain about. Expendables 2, coming soon! With bonus Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme! I will be there. I might be the only girl in that theater, but I will be there.


About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor, and has been talking about television on the Internet since the very beginnings of the Internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider, and her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She is also a produced playwright, a host of podcasts, and a repository of "X-Files" trivia.

Posted on September 13, 2011, in All the Spoilers, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed it too (for what it was)! Granted, it was a cheezy stereo-type driven action movie, but HEY that’s what I expected! I thought Mickey Rourke’s monologue in the middle of the movie was AWESOME, so awesome in fact that it TOTALLY didn’t fit in with the rest of the movie, but I was glad it was in there. The Jet vs. Austin fight was fun (the whole small-but-fast vs. slow-and-strong things was enjoyable), and although i literally groaned outloud at the “deflated balls” quip, ya gotta admit it was a good line. (PS – typo in your article there: “deflated balls” makes more sense than “deflected balls”). 🙂

    PS – I’ve got a movie-crush on Statham too… my horomones are soooo not PC. I wish they’d bring in Vin Diesel for the sequel. I know he doesn’t fit in with the over-the-hill criteria, but…. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Expendables” | nerd puddle

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