In the ’80s, there was no shortage of Hollywood he-men, guys who regularly toppled small armies and rescued whoever seemed worthy of rescuing. Stallone. Schwarzenegger. Seagal. Their names were synonymous with action, but not necessarily acting.
Times have changed. The musclebound enforcers of yesteryear have given way to caped crusaders and masked mutants, and the actors who play the new breed of superheroes are not reformed bodybuilders but plausible Oscar hopefuls: Robert Downey Jr, Edward Norton and the like. Yet here, as if to prove there’s still room for an old-fashioned big-screen brawler, stands Jason Statham.
It might be one of the first films conceived as a trailer and later expanded into a feature. Machete, Robert Rodriguez’s story of a Rambo-like ex-Federale betrayed by his bosses and out for revenge, began as a tongue-in-cheek teaser for Grindhouse, the director’s 2007 homage to ’70s exploitation fare. But it soon evolved into something more.
“Once we made the trailer, I thought that was as far as it was going to go,” says Rodriguez, 42, who cast cousin and longtime friend Danny Trejo as the titular tough guy at the center of his cheerfully gruesome thriller, which opened Friday.
It began as a joke, two minutes of over-the-top mayhem tacked onto the agreeably bloated Grindhouse double feature, a trailer touting a coming attraction that would never be coming. Yet Machete struck a nerve, at least in the mind of director Robert Rodriguez, and three years later the joke, stretched out to nearly two hours, is reborn as a feature.
A Rotten Tomatoes reader described The Expendables thusly: “Its purpose is to be violent.” Mission accomplished. Sylvester Stallone’s long-rumored convening of the Lat Pack – a motley crew of action stars past and present, including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and, in his first dramatic role since 2004’s Around the World in 80 Days, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – is a love letter to bloody excess.
Ladies and gentlemen, set your DVRs. At the Movies, the beacon of televised film criticism founded by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in 1975, is about to undergo a much-needed makeover.
For those who have followed the syndicated weekly show since Ebert and latter-day partner Richard Roeper left Disney-ABC Domestic Television last summer, the introduction of Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott as the latest pair of critics to occupy the vaunted balcony should come as welcome news.
Despite the movie’s early mixed reviews, the NFL is rolling out the red carpet for Denzel Washington’s latest thriller, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.
Here in the Bay Area, San Francisco 49ers stars Alex Smith and All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis will be joined by Nnamdi Asomugha, Darrius Hayward-Bey and Michael Huff of the Oakland Raiders to host a special Wednesday night screening of the film at the Great Mall in Milpitas. The players will arrive to walk the carpet at 6:30 p.m., with the movie, a remake of Joseph Sargent’s 1974 subway heist, to follow.