Not for a long time, if ever has there been a collection of A-List action stars together in one film as there is for “The Expendables.” Written, directed and also starring is Sylvester Stallone (one busy guy). Releasing a series of separate behind-the-scenes featurettes, Stallone is giving the audience a sneak peek into different aspects of the film making process and also letting us see how he directs and acts in the scenes all at the same time.
Each episode — which focuses on a diverse range of movie making — starts off with an introduction by Sylvester Stallone and an explanation about what we are going to see.
After watching all three featurettes, you can see that Stallone put a call out to his long-time friends and other action stars and they answered … in a big way. Starring besides Stallone in this ensemble action/war film are action veterans Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren and other brief cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Steve Austin and Ultimate Fighting Champion star Randy Couture.
In episode one, “Hostages,” we get to see what went into the intense and grueling shooting of a major action scene. Although Stallone has an eye for knowing how to set up and shoot great actions and stunts, it’s apparent that he likes to plan it out on the day of see how it goes. By letting the actors improvise and go with what they are feeling, you get a more genuine feeling and reality. We also get to see how verbal he is on set and that he goes at a quick pace. I also liked that you get to see the joking and comedic style of the actors; I really hope these aspects show through into the final film.
In the second episode, “Soldiers,” we see the main cast going to Brazil to start casting locals to be the army men. I really like that Stallone doesn’t want male models and decided to look at MMA fighters. Not only are they naturally tough and fit, but the danger and maliciousness they have to exude for their fighting matches really comes through on film and changes the tone of those scenes. Once again, Stallone is making the wise decision of reality over what is sadly the normal thing to do nowadays, which is “Do whatever looks best and will fill up the theaters.”
Finally, is “All the Stars Together,” which is a little group of scenes showing the cast on set, interacting, joking around and trying to work out the best way for the scenes to go. Also, we see Stallone doing re-writes on the set to produce a better end product, and a lot of playing it by ear the day of and just seeing what happens. I really do hope that a lot of the dry humor you see in the takes and while not even filming end up in the movie.
In my opinion, it would be impossible for any director or star to be able to tell all of these massively-talented action stars what to do every day unless they were talented and respected themselves. That’s why I believe that Stallone is the perfect man to undertake such an ambitious film, really aiming for the feel of the great action films of the ’80 and early ’90s, “The Expendables” is bound to be an explosive joyride of muscles and adrenaline and I cannot wait to see the film on the big screen!
“The Expendables” knocks its way into theaters Aug. 13 and is rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language.
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