If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his team of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) (and yes, I hate the puns too) are mercenaries hired to stop General Garza (David Zayas), a leader corrupted by a rogue CIA operative named James Munroe (Eric Roberts). They have to fly to an island in the Gulf of Mexico and take out their army in order to get their money.
I don't know if you can tell, but I struggled through that synopsis. Most of it I just reworded from Internet Movie Database's plot summary because gun to my head (pun only intended in hindsight), I couldn't tell you what was going on in this movie after watching it. I mean it's got a very basic plot: Mercenaries are hired to kill a guy, so they go out and do it. But I really had a hard time understanding the villains' motivations here. The explanation was brush aside in exposition, but since most of the dialogue in the first half of this movie is exposition I really stopped paying attention by the time they explained it. But this movie has some of the biggest action stars of the 80s and 90s mixed in with some of the biggest names of today. That's enough for the ticket price alone, right?
Sadly, I have to say that no, I really don't think that was enough. And don't get me wrong, there is some great action here and some top-notch acting from some of the actors (bottom-notch from the rest), but the script is just painful and the direction is very shoddy. I like Stallone, I really do. Rocky is one of my favorite movies, and he absolutely deserves any and all praise he gets for that movie. But over time his skills have just become more and more lost in his narcissistic, dumb action movies. They just don't live up to his older work, which is sad considering how much potential this film had.
There is absolutely not chemistry between any of these guys on screen. There is not one moment in this film where I honestly felt like Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham had ever seen each other in person before they started working together on this film. And it's strange because a lot of the people who worked on this actually are good friends in real life. I don't understand how you can have genuine chemistry in person and have that be completely absent on screen, unless it's the director's fault. But then the director is the same guy having such a hard time convincing me on screen that he is friends with the people in his own movie, so I don't know what's going on. All I know is that they completely squandered a good idea.
Again, there are good things here. I love Statham as a knife-wielding maniac and Dolph Lundgren actually gives a pretty great performance as Gunnar Jensen, a long-time partner of Barney. Mickey Rourke is absolutely brilliant, which is even more impressive when you realize he got all of the absolute worst dialogue of the film. I would have really liked Eric Roberts as the villain if he had been given more to do. But then there's so much bogging it down, including some completely unnecessary political messages and characters and character development that go nowhere. And despite some slick action near the end of the film, there comes a point where it feels like they just gave up on coming up with ideas and we get several minutes of characters blindly shooting at each other. It gets very uninteresting very fast, which is sort of what I could say about this movie in general.