So I went to see The Expendables 2 for my birthday, as one does (surely you all recall how I feel about The Expendables). Possibly even more exciting than the most homoerotic fight scene ever filmed outside of gay porn is the inkling that an all-ladies Expendables movie might possibly happen.
I KNOW you all can tell how I would feel about that. Of course I have some suggestions as to who should be involved in such a venture: Maggie Q, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano, Milla Jovovich, Gina Torres, Zoe Saldana, the flawless Lucy Liu, and of course a cameo by Pam Grier, to name just a few. If I can't get my Birds of Prey film or All DC Ladies All The Time miniseries, I'll settle for a gynocentric Expendables venture.
Ok, back to the really gay fight scene. I canNOT, dear readers. See, the best thing about this sequel is that Jean Claude Van Damme is in it--playing the baddie, no less, sleek Eurotrash in sunglasses who's trying to sell plutonium to...whoever wants it. His name, obviously, is Vilain. So inevitably he and Sly Stallone's main bad-mother-do-gooder have to mix it up, and though there could have been more actual fighting in their Thunderdome showdown, the lines spoken make up for it. "I'll man you up," Sly snarls. "You must really want to hurt me," JCVD hisses back. "Taste good?" Sly grits as blood drips from JCVD's jaw.
I mean really. This scene is a gift from the gods of war.
(also, Jason Statham joins the roster of sexy Hollywood priests)
Belts are ripped off! Guns and knives are tossed aside until the only phallic objects around are actual phalli! And at last Sly triumphs (which would totally not happen, said the Jean Claude fangirl) and his reward is a heart-to-heart with Maggie Chan, the team's lone female member. Dear talented, badass Yu Nan, what are you even doing here? Bruce Willis coins the phrase "male-pattern badness" early on in the film and really, that's what the movie is about and the reason why anyone goes to see such movies. Shoehorning in women as a nod to diversity or as romantic interests is really beyond the ken of a movie that is only trying to be a slugfest. There's nothing at all wrong with slugfests but I don't necessarily enjoy it when they try to be more than what they are. This is not to say that women can't be action stars or that there are no action films that utilize female characters skillfully. Being the only person alive who enjoyed Haywire and Salt and who can't stop going to all the Resident Evil and Underworld films, I consider myself a big fan of ladies shooting and/or stabbing things. But action movies that work with female characters are ones that don't make a big deal about them being there. Maggie, of course, gets to go through the mild gauntlet of being underestimated by Sly and hit on by Dolph, until finally she has proven herself as good as one of the boys. Hopefully, if a female-cast Expendables comes to fruition, the plotline will be something other than this. In the first Expendables movie, Giselle Itie's character Sandra had a fairly solid plot-driven purpose for being present, but in this sequel, Maggie's purpose is more tenuous. As a government agent, she could be anyone, and she has no real investment in the plan going off without a hitch other than "not dying". Ultimately both Sandra and Maggie's higher purpose is to serve as the mode for Sly's introspection. Will they help him out of his shell? Will he eventually open his heart to luv? Sorry, but no thank you. Barney Ross will continue to seek refuge in blowing shit up.
Final words: Stallone and his cowriter seem to have made a drinking game out of fitting into the script as many action film references as possible. Chuck Norris is that kid who follows you around on the playground but demurs when you invite him to play with you. Charisma Carpenter is sorely underutilized by these movies. And will someone please, please cast Terry Crews to play Luke Cage already?