Stuff blows up. Guys get shot. Men smoke cigars while throwing out monosyllabic one liners. Not your typical day at the office. Then again, the action described above takes place in a movie that is anything but typical. “The Expendables”, set to be released in August may just be the biggest action movie of summer. Or ever…
Whether the movie will be a huge blockbuster is yet to be seen though. But one thing is certain: the cast packs a punch. The film, which stars Sylvester Stallone (and was also directed by him), also stars a few other guys who people might recognize. The cast list reads like a who’s who of action movie veterans. It includes: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also, in the flick are martial arts star Jet Li, wrestling icons Randy Couture and Steve Austin as well as NFL veteran Terry Crews. Jason Statham, one of the latest shoot ‘em up film stars rounds out the list.
The idea behind the flick was to include all of the top action movie stars of, well, all time. The only big name from the 80s and 90s that is missing is Jean-Claude Van Damme. Lundgren took the role shortly after Van Damme declined. Losing Van Damme didn’t stop Stallone from seeing his vision through to the completion. The idea was to make an old-fashioned action movie about soldiers of fortune, “back when ‘mercenary’ wasn’t such a dirty word” like it is now with the thoughts of the Iraq conflict that the word brings about today.
The film, which was original set to be developed by Warner Brothers, was snagged by Lionsgate in a bit of last minute deal making.
Back in the 80s and early ‘90s Warner was a veritable action factory, pumping out a long list of heavy duty action hits like the “Lethal Weapon” series, as well some of Stallone’s hits like “Assassins”, “The Specialist”, and “Demolition Man.”
Since then Warner has moved onto other types of projects, shifting their focus toward less gritty more fantasy-based films like “Harry Potter”. Stallone was fine with letting “The Expendables” go to Nu Image and Millenium since his idea from the start was to make a throwback action flick.
Regarding the types of films he is known for he said, “I would sure like to bring the genre back a little bit, so some young guys could pick up the banner.”
He went on to note in the same interview that it was actors being able to “Velcro their muscles on” which killed the hard action genre, which included films like “Rambo and “Rocky” – which have actually eked out decent performances with retro styled sequels over the last several years.
But maybe “The Expendables” will change all of that…
Rated R last week for “strong action and bloody violence throughout” the film used a crew of 75 stunt men and a budget of $80 million to shoot the movie in Brazil and Louisiana. The action stars in the film play the type of guys who drop in on villains from a plane whose machine guns are hidden and which has a “Global Wildlife Conservancy” logo on the side.
In looking forward to the future Stallone says that he sees the genre coming back a bit as young energetic actors get tired of doing all of their acting in front of a green screen.
“Taylor Lautner, all of these guys want to step up,” he said.
“Given the opportunity to return to Vietnam, down and dirty, they’d be way up for it.”