Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Expendabelles go to whore island. Why is this film happening?


You may of heard of Expendabelles. Sylvester Stallone's all female spin-off of his Expendables series. While I am all for female action hero's, and I definitely believe there should be more of them, something about this film's proposal left me feeling angry.


I first got angry when I heard the horrific pun of a title. Expenda-belles? Really? "Belles" makes it sound girly, light. If you can't take the title of the film seriously, how you expect me to handle the rest of it? I honestly thought it was a joke. It's no secret that The Expendables is male film for males, trading on the finely constructed image of masculinity that many of the films stars have made their living off of. Muscles! Violence! Budweiser real beer! So you have to think, what will the all-woman film be like? You can count on one thing, there will be stereotypes galore.


Then there's the plot. When I read this, I actually wanted to cry.

"When America’s Navy SEALs are wiped out trying to penetrate the island lair of a deadly despot who has captured one of the world’s top nuclear scientists, it becomes clear that there is no such thing as the right man for the job and that this is a mission so impossible that only women can handle it. The only way in: some of the world’s deadliest female operatives must pose as high-class call-girls shipped in by private plane to satisfy a dictator–and instead save the scientist and the day." - from IMDb

Yeah, okay, let's get all our collective female dignity and just smash them through the meat grinder. This sounds like the most horrific and sexist plot for the most stupid straight to video B-movie ever. Let alone a high profile one, of which they expect to get the likes of Meryl Streep in.

But let's have a little time out here folks and engage our brains. This plot summary was posted on IMDb by somebody who goes by the name of "umb", and this plot summary is the only thing he has written on IMDb. If you google "Expendabelles plot", you just get this plot line repeated again and again. Although it was first reported in Deadline, there seems to be no clear source of this plot. Maybe it was just written by some trolling twat to cause up roar.

Let's keep our ears to the ground about this one. If this is the actual plot, then no self-respecting actress should take up this role. It's a disgrace.


It even sounds like Stallone isn't really taking the film too seriously, or sees it as an Expendables-lite. In an off hand comment to Jason Statham in an Expendables 3 press junket, he jokes to Statham (in reference to how many more films he wants to do) "how many before I'm done, before I do Expendabelles?" He doesn't even know that an all female action film could work, joking that maybe he gets divorced from his wife in the film and she takes half of his team (because all women want from a divorce is a massive, unreasonable settlement) (has he even mentioned his wife in any of the films?).

My confidence for this film is melting away.

But let's talk facts. They have lined up Robert Luketic to direct it, of 21, Legally Blond and the Katherine Hiegel and Ashton Kutcher starring Killers. A good solid action background there, if you interpretation of action is awkward sex scene's in rom-coms. They extend this shambles to the writers, which include Karen McCullah and Kristen Smith, who have both written screenplays for Legally Blond, 10 Things I Hate About You and She's The Man. Not all of these films are awful, but none of them are of the (debatable) action/adventure/thriller genre that Expendables bills itself as. If these people go against the grain and come up with an excellent action movie, I'll be excited. But looking at the evidence, it's looking like a no.


This proposed film sounds stupid, but why does it make me angry? I've said before about The Expendables that the main reason they probably don't get more high profile actresses in the films is because alot of the great female action heroes are just better at acting then the likes of Stallone, Statham and Schwarzenegger. If anything, the high level of acting in these types of films would be disorientating.

But the planned Expendabelles film makes me angry because it is just plain old sexist. Many people like to see something on the screen that they can relate to, whether it's a character that they personally identify with, or an idealised version. That's why Expendables does so well, because men like to look at Barney and his mercenaries and think "wow, I wish I was ripped and as athletic as them, and I could fire a huge gun at those bad guys, then go to the bar where I'm allowed to throw knives and drink like a man." Yes, you can accuse these films of perpetuating that unhealthy version of manliness that many men can't, or don't want to achieve. But these films are a satire, a mocking look at the excess of 80s action films, written and starring the very people that did those movies. The audience is in on the joke.

Female led excessive action films are almost non existent. There is no equivalent of Rambo or Predator. One of the best examples of a woman leading an action film is the Alien franchise, with the brilliant Sigourney Weaver starring as Ripley. The difference with that film though is that it was clever, scary and genuinely suspenseful. Ripley being a woman was of little consequence to the plot line, and I've certainly never hear anyone say "Alien would of been a better film if Ripley was a man, because those Xenomorph's look too much for that little lady". And that film was released in 1979. Are we going backwards?

Women like to identify with what they see on the big screen too. They like to see a woman that is strong and can kick-ass, but many don't identify with the mopey love sick mess that you tend to get in rom-com's, and they certainly don't need patronising into thinking that the only way they can get something done is to exploit men's hard on for the female form.

As much as the plot sounds like bullshit, the response to it, from men and women, shows that alot of people want this to happen. If this is going to be a film aimed at the female audience, then please do us a service and give us an some action heroines that we can be proud of and want to identify with.

In the meantime, enjoy this fan-made trailer for Expendabelles, which splices together some of the best women heroes to a Beyonce soundtrack. Enjoy!



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