One online dictionary defines vaudeville as “Light theatrical entertainment, consisting of a succession of short acts. A vaudeville show usually included comedians, singers, dancers, jugglers, trained animals, magicians, and the like” which pretty much sums this up.
Substitute acts of bloody mayhem for the lively arts, with each character using his special gifts and you’ve got it. These fellas did the movie for fun not to raise sleeping profundities.
You know there are going to be plenty of cheesy, artificially dramatic lines because that’s the way Stallone writes. There were as many snickers a recent media screening as there were whoops of excitement during the outrageous stunts and deliberately funny exchanges.
But one thing was consistent, the audience was captivated by the action and the sight of the top action stars of the western world crammed together in one 102 minute movie.
Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Norris share the screen with young blood Liam Hemsworth, NFL-er Terry Crews, UFC’s Randy Couture and super brainy female male culture interloper / tech wizard Nan Yu. It’s quite breathtaking.
Their appearances, rising out of smoke, from around a bombed out corner, behind a far off avenging gun barrel, elicit even more excited screams from the audience.
The muscles-for-hire team of yore, led by Stallone bursts into a Nepalese prison to rescue a dumbfounded Chinese billionaire from knife wielding thugs. They must first save someone they know well, hidden under a hood awaiting his own torture and execution and who was minding “moneybags”.
Obviously they succeed and begin their hair-raising, barn storming journey around the world – Paris, Albania, back country China, the good ol’ US of A – in search of innocent victims and valued items. But foremost in their collective mind is payback for Church (Willis) who nearly got them killed on the first mission. Time to even the score.
The body count is excessively high and the blood spattering is beyond the pale, but this is what fans of such films and video games expect, so there is no harsh reality, it’s simply getting the obstacles out of the way with a certain colorful chutzpah.
Top of the line action superstars poke fun at themselves and have a great time doing it, blowing up everything I sight in exotic locations around the world, while pulling daredevil stunts and making G rated jokes. Not swearing even though it’s R rated.
There is a strong vaudeville vibe, as these guys tell corny tales about past adventures, joke around while dispatching hundreds of blood spewing bodies action, making special signature moves. They regale us with beloved one liners, chestnuts and ephemera from past glories.
It’s fun to an extent in those terms, while the old stuff is okay, it would be nice to see them move on and extend their fan base.
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35 action adventure
Written by Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone et al
Directed by Simon West
Opens: August 17
Runtime: 102 minutes
MPAA: Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout