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Non-Review Review: The Expendables 2

There’s a very thin line between being a tribute to something and becoming an example of it. The Expendables sold itself as an affectionate homage to the cheesy eighties action movies that you’d find populating the godforsaken post-midnight hours on a local television station. They’re the kind of movies we remember with a sense of casual fondness – we don’t lie to ourselves that they were great, but focus on the cheesy one-liners and the ridiculous stunts and the scenery-chewing bad guys. Unfortunately, those movies generally weren’t as good as we remember them. We omit certain details – the terrible pseudo-political subtext shoehorned in, the cringe-worthy character work, the pacing issues, the performances that aren’t so bad they become good, but are instead so bad that they remain bad. The Expendables felt like a revived eighties late-night action movie, rather than a tribute to our cultural memory of one.

So I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed The Expendables 2, the sequel to the all-star actioner. It seems to have learned a lot from its predecessor and feels like exactly the sort of light and brainless entertainment we remember, rather than the mind-numbingly bad films we actually watched.

Eighties action movie reunion!

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Non-Review Review: Act of Valour

Act of Valour is an interesting little experiment that almost undermines its own central premise. Using real-life Navy SEALs to portray fictional Navy SEALs, one might imagine that the directors were opting for a naturalistic approach to the somewhat conventional action film. On paper, it seems like an attempt to construct a film drawing on the raw experiences of people who have lived through events similar to those depicted on screen, and to harness that personality in a way that connects with the audience more faithfully than an actor giving a performance could. Unfortunately, the movie winds up feeling horribly staged, with the cast given naturalistic dialogue that sound painfully rehearsed, a blaring soundtrack and an impersonal approach to the action sequences. While it might have the right stuff at its core, the surface of the movie is almost impenetrable.

Not quite a blast...

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Non-Review Review: Salt

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. It’s the final post I’m doing as part of it, looking at last year’s pretender to the “super spy” crown.

I pride myself on my suspension of disbelief. Richard Donner convinced me that a man could fly. My favourite film of 2008 was about a man who dressed as a flying rodent who took on a psychotic clown in downtown Chicago. I recently enjoyed a movie where the inner workings of a computer were represented as neon motorbikes. The film of the year features a crack team of specialists who break into people’s dreams and steal their ideas (or plant new ones). And yet Salt taxes my suspension of disbelief.

Are they arresting her for a Salt?

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