For some reason, people like to call musicians “sell outs” when they do any kind of commercial while actors often get a free pass.
Sylvester Stallone is about the biggest sell out in Hollywood. He got nominated for Oscars with Rocky, a screenplay he wrote. Then he went on to do sequel after sequel (not just with Rocky, but Rambo). Now he grabbed one of his Expendables stars and gave him a crappy script he wrote years earlier. It’s a shame.
Once I saw actor Anthony Quinn on Letterman, and he said that Stallone gave him a script he wrote about Edgar Allan Poe and it was one of the best things he’s ever read. Yet instead of getting that made, he produces a movie that comes across like a bad episode of Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad.
I might be tempted to give credit to cinematographer Theo Van De Sande for capturing the Louisiana bayou so well, but I got my fill of that in Stallone’s action picture Bullet to the Head last year (which I actually liked).
Jason Statham has a great look and voice for an action star. He sounds like Roger Daltrey and punches like Keith Moon. He plays Phil Broker, an undercover DEA agent that for some reason, feels bad that a crazy meth head is killed during a raid. This causes him to retire, and concentrate on raising his 10-year-old daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). Just as Stallone’s late son handled a bully in Rocky V, this girl has been trained by daddy. That means the fat redhead picking on her ends up with all the bruises. That kids mom is a junkie (played wonderfully by Kate Bosworth). When her husband gets his butt kicked by Statham, she goes to her brother Gator Bodean. He’s played by James Franco. Now, we had a blast recently watching Franco work Seth Rogen over on a motorcycle in a parody video. In this, it’s Winona Ryder he bends over the hood of a car. She’s his druggie girlfriend, and is decent in the part.
Gator quickly finds out Statham’s real identity and tries to turn him over to the biker gang that runs a big meth operation. He feels this will get him into the big time with his drug dealing. That means talking to Cyrus, the head drug dealer, who turns out to be a nut. He’s played by Chuck Zito, who in real life might just be a nut. He’d appear on the Howard Stern Show, and Stern liked to talk about the time Zito punched out Jean-Claude Van Damme in a nightclub (and you thought Van Damme looked so cool doing those splits between the two trucks).
There’s a dirty sheriff in town played by Clancy Brown. He’s a character actor that usually plays a cop, or a bad guy. Sometimes both (see Shawshank Redemption).
Often in movies like this, the action scenes are a guilty pleasure. In this, they’re terribly staged. That doesn’t mean the fight scenes aren’t occasionally fun. Who doesn’t love seeing a meth head get a good drubbing?
The third act deals with the biker gang invading the house and kidnapping Maddy. It’s derivative and dopey.
I knew I’d have problems with this movie when there were about 20 stupid things that happened in the first half hour. A few of those things being Statham leaving his front door unlocked when he went horse back riding with his daughter. The other was him saving all his police files in the garage, making it easy for bad guys to quickly discover who he really is.
I’ll give the movie an extra half star, for starting off with a Black Keys song.
It gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.