Five Predictions for The Expendables

Here at Best For Film, we’ve just spent an entire morning watching the trailer for Sly Stallone’s upcoming action superfilm The Expendables over and over again – we know it can’t be healthy, but that feeling of power and manliness is too good to just give up. In that respect, it’s probably quite a lot like anabolic steroids, which is unlikely to be a coincidence.

It may be a couple of weeks until The Expendables swaggers onto UK cinema screens and kicks an usher in the teeth, but we think there’s been enough hype to make some pretty rock-solid guesses about the action film which should make any further experiments with the genre utterly unnecessary. So with that in mind, we’re putting our reputation on the line with this potted plot: our five predictions for The Expendables.

Jason Statham and Gary Daniels will have a Brit-off.

This has just got to happen, hasn’t it? Sly’s second in command is ex-SAS man Lee Christmas (?), played by Statham, and Daniels is the bad guy’s principal henchman-with-a-grudge. You’ll probably know Statham as ‘Bacon’ from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and although Daniels doesn’t have much of a CV we’re soon to be treated to the sight of him starring in a live-action film remake of the game Tekken. No lie. Anyway, the Brit and The Brit (that’s genuinely Daniels’ character’s name) will cross paths somewhere in the middle of a firefight, trade one-liners and then set about each other Marquess of Queensberry style until someone shoots The Brit in the face to remind Christmas that close-quarters fighting is essentially for schoolboys, and that he stole his name from a second-rate Bond girl. Job done.

Any and all wrestlers in the cast of The Expendables will throw somebody bodily into a jeep/enemy/pile of oil drums at least once, regardless of circumstance.

Bless them, after learning all those lines they need something they can get their teeth into. BFF has no argument with hardcore arms dealer Tool (Mickey Rourke), obviously, but no film needs Stone Cold Steve Austin AND Randy Couture AND a sword-wielding Brazilian ju-jitsuist. Ju-jitsuer. Whatever. The trailer alone shows at least two instances of vest-clad supermen waving their hapless adversaries about like ‘I ♥ Florence’ banners at a festival, and they’re likely to be little more than tasters for a more or less constant Atlas motif. We don’t think the film’s script will demand that Steve pull a Stone Cold Stunner on anyone, but it’s entirely possible that muscle memory took over during filming and nobody dared ask him to retake.

The three-way machismo convention between Bruce, Arnie and Sly will be a massive disappointment.

Brace yourselves for this one. We know from the trailer that papa Willis is cameoing Sly and Bruce face off as some sort of be-suited fixer and Arnie recommends The Expendables to him for a jaws-of-hell mission to ‘a South American country’. Neither actor is really cut out for walk-on parts – expect lines delivered with a hitherto unknown level of steely-eyed intensity as Sly wrestles with Trench and Mr Church for screentime. Incidentally, Trench? Mr Church? Lee Christmas? TOOL? Who on earth named the cast? Oh yes, it was writer-director-star Stallone, who is apparently so in need of verbal reminders of his huge testicles that, unsatisfied with the moniker ‘The Italian Stallion’, he’s called his own character Barney ‘The Schizo’ Ross. Charming.

Every single ‘good’ character will a) coolly walk away from an explosion, b) rescue a hapless woman and c) do something improbably military with his teeth.

This could really be the ‘preposterous action movie clich├ęs list’, couldn’t it? Still, if Sly’s really made the guns’n’ammo action flick to end them all, he needs to leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of totally pointless set pieces. You can also expect extraordinarily unsafe jumps from all manner of moving vehicles (all of which ignore gravity and momentum to the jumper’s advantage), a series of grunts who attack the guy from the Old Spice ads one by one so he can shout them to death, and in all probability a weapon which empties itself at a very inconvenient moment. We’ve also noticed that the Expendables have been carefully age-balanced so that any given moment one of them can either claim to be “too old for this shit” or accuse another character of being “too old for this shit”.

The whole wretched production is going to make XXX look like a searing indictment of modern morality.

Let’s not beat around the bush, The Expendables is going to be absolutely shocking – let’s not forget that Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down a role because he thought it was too insubstantial. VAN DAMME. INSUBSTANTIAL.
As far as we can make out, the plot is the bastard child of The Magnificent Seven and Commando, and it’s been written by a man who, having spent his whole career playing one of two characters, has stitched them together to make a legendary hard nut (again) who is more scruffy than Rocky but less dirty than Rambo. Every other lead character is basically going to play himself, the women will be either pathetic or mental and the bad guy will get his comeuppance for being foreign and referring to America, the home of cinematic excess, as “a disease”. One or two of the good’uns will bite the dust too, of course, but their deaths will either be dizzyingly noble or the trigger for another hectic shootout, so it’s all good. There may be attempts at plot early on, but they’ll be ditched by around the forty-five minute mark in favour of a roiling, scorching orgy of unremitting violence which will carry the audience through to the inevitable closing shot of Sly staring intently towards a money-spinning sequel. You’ll probably enjoy it; we will too, exactly like we enjoyed The A-Team and its symphony of LOUD. We’ll just hate ourselves afterwards.

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