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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Expendables


Since when has ageism been so fashionable? This years Oscars Ceremony were hosted by two comedians openly basking in the glittering twilight of their careers; their stage and screen characters play with happily self deprecating awareness of their age ("we'll now introduce three people [the stars of the Twilight series] who have no idea who we are") and boyish flaunting of their romantic agelessness (see any of the young women opposite them in Shop Girl or 30 Rock). The 80s have made a dramatic comeback in 2010, but the time period is resurfacing primarily as an idea, and a particularly ironic one. Like within our own lives, that aesthetically awkward period now appears more attractive: at an arms length its rough colors and edges seem softer and even more purposeful.
Before The Expendables last night a preview came on for RED, a comic-adaption in which a handful of Academy Award winners, as retired CIA operatives, suddenly appear as a threat to the Agency. Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren, seriously, Helen Mirren, decide to pool their resources and, naturally, clear their names by breaking in to CIA headquarters. Bruce Willis is chided by the name "Grandpa," promptly before breaking the hapless youngster's neck. The image of Helen Mirren wielding an automatic rifle is, frankly, more shocking than the movie's plot.
Expendables followed quite aptly. The script is weathered in conjuring up the past: doubts about a misspent career; sighs and scowls over missed opportunities; older guys reaching back in time by way of (much) younger women. The idea of the movie, like RED, mirrors nearly all the action contained within: a decadence of action heroes in an orgy of violence; bulky bodies with the thickest of necks spurting out muscled, veiny, (perhaps unnaturally enhanced) dialogue. There are moments of genuine oddness, and funny back-and-forth, but that's not really the point.
It is just as much a movie about action movies as it is a movie in its own right. Not that it is that heady, or even thoughtful, but it is overwhelmingly self conscious just as flaunting self consciousness, particularly ones place in history, is at the height of its popularity. Expendables, however, unlike other cultural motifs, has a monopoly on hyperbole. Thank God.

If you've been under a rock, check the link: http://expendablesthemovie.com/

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