I wanted to really like this movie, and I wanted it to be awesome. Unfortunately, it comes up short. Perhaps my expectations were just too high. How could they not be though? Just loook at the cast! This is a macho testosteronefest throwback to the glory days of 80s and 90s action films. This film, like Unforgiven, had the potential to be the be-all end-all of its respective genre; unfortunately it comes off more like nostalgia instead.
That's not a total bad thing, though. It's cool seeing Sly and Dolph share the screen again, and of course, there's the much talked about church scene with Sly, Bruce, and Arnie. A cool scene, but it feels really rushed. The story is very simple and predictable, but that's part of the charm. The script however, is an all over the place mess. I'm okay with the silly one liners that mostly fall flat. What I don't like is the uneven character development. Lots of focus is placed on Statham, and his relations with Sly, as well as the Sly and Rourke stuff, but everything else is just left hanging. They should have made a longer film along the lines of The Dirty Dozen or something, and shaped it like that. In fact, I was reminded more of stuff like that instead of the 80s/90s films. This works well as a "men on a mission" picture, even if it leaves something to be desired.
I was close to giving this an extra half star, but the aforementioned issues are what keep me from doing it. There are some things that are done well, though. Stallone definitely knows how to do action scenes, and those are awesome. Some of the camera work and editing were a bit too shaky for me, but at least not all of the gore was cg. I also really liked Rourke dramatic monologue. It was well done and gave the film a sense of purpose. The cast is pretty good. They seem to have decent chemistry, and I liked how it was a mixture of veterans of the genre and newcomers like Couture and Crews. Also, having bonafide actors like Rourke and Roberts added some nice weight and gravitas.
This could have been the best damn action film ever. Instead it becomes merely a fun and entertaining yet flawed tribute. It has some merits, but is unfortunately too flawed to really recommend. C+