It will surprise no one who read my previous post to learn that the folks at Big Hollywood loved The Expendables exactly as much as they
are ideologically required to anticipated. Still, John Nolte’s review is a teleological marvel. What he likes about the film is
the simple straight-forward plot, all the B-movie mayhem you could possibly ask for, and two unapologetic hours of masculinity—which may be two hours more than we’ve seen in all of the last decade put together. These boys smoke cigars, drink beer while piloting airplanes, and return us to those glorious pre-Oprah days when stoicism was still a virtue and real men didn’t gush about their inner-emotional lives like 13 year-old girls drunk on Dr. Pepper at a slumber party.
Maybe someone should tell him that the reason flat characters don’t “gush” about “their inner-emotional lives” is because they don’t have them. Maybe I should. I suppose I will. Please, Mr. Nolte, continue:
Sylverster Stallone’s glorious throwback to the brawny 80s is also about something, and it’s not Bourne-ian self-discovery. It’s about something that actually matters. And in this age of nihilism when believing in anything bigger than self is considered old-fashioned, unsophisticated and naïve, that’s both refreshing and important.
If you insist on italicizing the word “about,” you might want to indicate what that “something” that it’s about actually is. Sorry, I’m being rude. Mr. Nolte, you may continue:
The story opens with a well-crafted action sequence involving Somalia pirates that not only establishes how deadly competent our guys are, but also that they’re not cold-blooded killers. These are men with a moral code and one of their own breaking that code will be the root cause of deadly complications and a couple over the top action sequences to come.
So these are mercenaries who only ever fight the good fight? If I may, Mr. Nolte, let me recommend my friend Adam Roberts’s post on Iron Man, in which he notes that that film adheres to
the dream narrative of US military involvement in the Middle East: one American is able to go to Afghanistan, kill only the bad Afghans, leave all the good Afghani men women and children alive and leap away into the sky.
That “dream narrative” isn’t the product of a moral code, but simply a denial of the reality of reality. But I should let you finish:
The plot gets a nudge courtesy of a self-referential Meeting of The Titans. Ever in search of a job, Barney meets with “Church” (Bruce Willis), a CIA spook in need of some housecleaning that won’t make headlines and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a long-time rival. Cinematically this is far from a great scene—
First, stop pretending to be German. Second, I think you’re starting to realize that you didn’t even like the film. You call it a “B-movie,” rate its action scenes as “over the top,” and now you’re criticizing how it films a conversation. What did you think of the dialogue?
[T]hese aren’t men who talk a whole lot, and when they do it’s usually in the form of affectionate crowd-pleasing insults that might not move the plot or add character dimension, but once again Stallone (who co-wrote the screenplay with Dave Callahan) knows his audience.
I definitely think you hated this film. I mean, you’re praising dialogue that neither advanced the plot or added depth to the characters because, to your mind, Stallone’s audience consist of people who prefer pointless banter. I can’t even tell whether you’re insulting them more than your own intelligence here or vice versa. Wait, I have a test:
There’s also a kind of validation that comes with the price of admission, especially for those of us who couldn’t figure out why in the hell anyone would call metro-sexuals angsting over calling evil what it is and apologizing for America an action movie.
“The Expendables” proves us right.
Matt Damon sucks and the eighties freaking ruled.
I’m still not sure, but I will say this: your intelligence deserves to be insulted, because the reason you’re saying “Matt Damon sucks” is that he starred in movies with “Bourne-ian self-discovery,” whereas The Expendables “freaking ruled” because it was of the 1980s. Guess what? So’s The Bourne Identity (1980) and, of course, The Bourne Identity (1988).
Hate to burst your bubble, Mr. Nolte, but your precious ’80s were a bit smarter and more “inner-emotional” than you’ve chosen to remember them as.