Arnold Schwarzenegger never seems to get tired of saying his iconic Terminator line. But after some petty cameos in two Expendables movies, this time he’s really back. It’s not some ubiquitous revenge thriller thankfully, but in an action comedy where he unabashedly makes fun of his old, beat-up self to great effect.
When I first saw the trailer, I thought this sounds like it could be fun, but it’s not something I’m dying to see. But the positive early reviews intrigued me, so when the screening time comes along, I was kind of looking forward to it. Well guess what, it delivered!
The story is ever so simple. A dangerous Mexican drug cartel honcho escapes from the Feds on the way to federal prison. His goal is to speed away in his ZR1 supercar to the Mexican border, but not without going through the sleepy bordertown Sommerton Junction guarded by a grizzled Sheriff Ray Owens. As Owen said in the trailer, ‘I’m not going to let that guy comes through our town without a fight.’ Corny, yes, and there’s not exactly anything new or fresh in this action flick, but I’ll be darned if I wasn’t entertained from start to finish.
The Sheriff is taciturn but friendly. In fact, he’s revered but beloved by his townsfolk and the former LAPD deeply cares about this small town. When the time comes that the town has to face the drug cartel bandits, he only has his inexperienced deputies to rely on: Mike (the always hilarious Luis Guzmán), Jerry (Zach Gilford), Sarah (Jaimie Alexander) and Frank (Rodrigo Santoro), with the help of a village idiot who curates a weapons museum (Johnny Knoxville). Fans of Jack Ass would enjoy seeing Knoxville here who’s right in his elements with his riotous zany-ness, he’s perfectly cast in this role. The movie is filled with ludicrous action sequences, alternating between insane car chases involving a 1000-horsepowered ZR1 Corvette going 200 mph and bombastic shoot-em-ups where people don’t just get shot, they also get blown up to bits!! I’d be too busy rolling my eyes if I weren’t laughing so hard. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hysterical, but believe it or not, there’s also an emotional moment at one point that I actually got choked up a bit.
Arnie’s one liners are inherently hilarious because of the way he delivers them, but Guzmán and Knoxville are the scene stealers here, there’s riotous laughter every time they’re on screen. Guzmán’s expressive delivery is the perfect complement to Arnie’s deadpan style, too bad he didn’t have a verbal face off with the inimitable Peter Stormare who plays the villain’s henchman. As the main villain Gabriel Cortez, Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega (Open Your Eyes) displays a devilish charisma, who has a crazy mano-a-mano with the Governator… er Sheriff. I think he’d be on my next year’s list of actors I’d like to see more of 😉 Not sure what Forest Whitaker is doing here though, he’s pretty much relegated to a screaming bunch of nerves as the lead FBI agent tracking down Cortez.
I’m quite impressed by South Korean director Jee-woon Kim‘s zippy and dynamic directing style, and for someone who reportedly doesn’t speak much English, he’s able to get the most out of his actors. The script is apparently one of the 2009’s Black List, an annual list of ‘most liked scripts’ started by a Universal exec back in 2004. The seamless mix of action and comedy makes this so entertaining to watch. It’s what I think the first Expendables should’ve been, that is, not to take things too seriously. I could tell the whole theater was having a jolly good time. It’s definitely a welcome change for me after watching something as intense as Zero Dark Thirty! I’m not saying this movie isn’t violent and bloody, but mostly it’s happens pretty quick so it keeps me from flinching too often.
So if you’re looking for a pure escapist entertainment but not quite ready to check your brain at the door, this movie should satisfy you. This ain’t gonna be the last movie you’ll see Arnie in (he’ll be seen with Sylvester Stallone again later this year in, what else, an action thriller called The Tomb), but he’s chosen a pretty good vehicle for his comeback. I’m pretty generous in my ratings here as I enjoyed it immensely, I’d be renting this one again for sure.
|4 out of 5 reels|
Thoughts on Arnie or this film? Will you be watching it this weekend?