All good things must come to an end … like my hair. And so, since I am a conservative blogger I have no choice but to accept personal responsibility for my male pattern baldness. As much as I would like to blame my father, my grandfather, “the rich,” and a cruel, uncaring capitalistic system that surreptitiously gives men like me androgenic alopecia, I will do no such thing.
I first noticed my hair thinning up front. Soon, it wasn’t long before my crown began to crack under the pressure that baldness, the bastard, applies. The question became: Do I fight a slow war of attrition with my hair loss (one I was destined to lose), or would I employ a scorched-scalp strategy, whereas I could guarantee victory by embracing the landscape of a shaved head?
As a former soldier, the choice was simple: I would go back to the future, buy some shears, and see to it that my inner Bruce Willis was given his time to shine. The key to baldness is to revel in it and say to those stubborn genes, “You will not shake my confidence.” People can easily tell the difference between a man who sulks over finicky follicles that turned off too early, as if he was Samson done in by Delilah, and a man who likes what he sees and is empowered by it.
There are many men who pull off a shaved or bald head. Terry Crews, Dwayne “The Rock”Johnson, and Jason Statham are just a few. But to me, no one knows how to make it work better than Bruce Willis. The dude is the textbook case for cool. As so, as a newly-minted member of the Balding Men Club, I hereby announce my commitment to always strive for The Willis Ideal.
The Expendable 2 opened in first place its opening weekend, to the tune of $28.5 million. It can’t be hard to put Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger into one flick and not have a good opening weekend, so in that sense no one should be impressed with the haul. Regardless, the film still needs to be reviewed. Many of those who follow this blog probably figure that I’ll have nothing bad to say about the movie, given that I’ve claimed Stallone knows the meaning of life. Not true. Expendables 2 is a solid summer popcorn movie, but I still plan on covering the good, the bad and the ugly.
First things first. Or should I say last? If you’ve ever wanted to see Stallone throw down against Jean-Claude Van Damme, consider your wish granted. In his mid-sixties, Sly is as ripped as ever. JCVD brings some serious triceps to the game, and the roundhouse kicks are as swift and powerful as ever. Men will watch The Expendables 2 for the next few decades for the climatic battle alone. Van Damme’s “Vilain” is so cheesy that he wears sunglasses in a mineshaft, but it doesn’t matter because all the audience cares about is a.) He represents pure evil and b.) He’s going to meet his maker in a death match with Stallone.
Watching The Expendables 2 is sort of like looking into a soul made of pure testosterone. There are explosions galore, muscles, fighting, guns, and creatively-staged deaths of evil men that give the audience license to smile and say, “Well, the bastards kind of deserved it.” There’s a scene that involves Vilain’s henchmen, and dare I say it — what happens to the last man standing may be worth the price of admission alone.
Where Stallone’s sequel goes wrong is with the overuse of cheesy one liners. I expect those in an 80’s throwback movie, but there are only so many times I can hear Schwarzenegger say “I’ll be back” or make some painful reference to the Terminator flicks before it becomes annoying. In some sense I wish they would have done away with them all together. The wry smiles the men share when they’re on screen together tells the audience everything they need to know. We’re already in on the joke … and at times the hammy dialogue distracts from an action movie that can stand out its own.
And finally — the ugly. Someone needs to punch Simon West in the kidneys for the blink-and-you-missed it shot of Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger charging forward, guns blazing. How great would it have been to have a few classic stills of the three of them — running towards the camera in an extended shot — while emptying their magazines? Instead, we get a bunch of quick cuts, usually with a back turned away from the camera. Sometimes two of them have a moment together (and there is one with Arnold and Chuck Norris that is fabulous), but in general Mr. West dropped the ball when it came to getting three of the world’s best action heroes of all time into a few frames worthy of posters and t-shirts and memes for time eternal.
With that said, I think The Expendables 2 has enough juice in it for a third (and final) installment. Now get out there, do your manly duty, and see Expendables 2. And if you’re wondering why I didn’t cover things like, say, the “plot” … then you obviously haven’t see the original. I’m in a decent mood, so I’ll make it easy for you: Good guys need to kill bad guys.
Got it? Good. Now go see it, because Stallone and Co. aren’t getting any younger.
The Expendables 2 trailer has officially landed, and it delivers the goods. As I said before, only sad, sad men and the women who love them are not psyched about this movie. Let’s think about the trailer for a second, shall we? Cheesy one liners? Check. Explosions on top of explosions? Check. Eastern European, former Communist military equipment? Check. Guns, guns and more guns? Check. Asian chick kicking ass? Check. Pure testosterone? Check. The list can go on and on.
Fact:Stallone knows the meaning of life. Life is about being 65 years old, living balls to the wall, getting battered and bruised, and then laughing about it with your buddies. If life was an orange Sly would be squeezing the s**t out of it until there wasn’t any juice left, looking at the rind, and then shoving it in his mouth and eating it just to say he ate the whole damn thing. He’s awesome. Period.
Conventional wisdom says Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis should be drinking Ensure and thinking about “the good old days.” Instead of daydreaming about Rocky Balboa or Rambo he went out and created a whole new amazing franchise in his freakin’ 60’s!
Think about your friends from high school who are so out of shape that they’ve packed it in and act like sad-sack geriatrics before they’ve even lost their hair. Now think about Stallone convincingly going toe-to-toe, mano-e-mano with Van Damme at this stage of the game. It’s an inspiration.
Like the old school guns, cars, motorcycles and planes Stallone uses in The Expendables, he shows that age doesn’t need to matter because cool will always be cool. Age is inevitable, but you can kick ass until the day you die. If we think of Stallone’s body like a car it’s obvious that he loves and cares for it, but he’s going to use it and drive that thing into the ground because that’s what it was made for.
Years ago my mom, a second grade teacher at the time, would tell her coworkers how she would rather see Rocky and Rambo and any number of Stallone movies than some chick flick, and all the other women would look at her like she was from Mars. No mom, you weren’t nuts. In fact, a good litmus test to gauge someone’s sanity might be to ask them whether they would rather pay to see a marathon of Rocky, Rambo and The Expendables … or a You’ve Got Mail/Sleepless in Seattle double-feature.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an Expendables 2 trailer to watch … again.
Anyone who reads this blog knows I love Stallone. I come back to him again and again and again because he’s been planted a lot of conservative seeds in the minds of young men over the years—seeds that have been fruitful. The Expendables 2 is starting to fire up its engines, and so it must be covered.
When The Expendables hit theaters last summer, it seemed like virtually every action star of a certain age dropped by to flex their biceps and kick some keister. But apparently writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone still thinks there’s room for more macho men in the upcoming sequel. In a recent interview with EW, Stallone said that not only would Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger have meatier parts the second go-round, but that he’s also added Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme to the mix and, fingers crossed, we may even see Nicolas Cage and John Travolta getting in on the mayhem, too.
“John Travolta”? No one’s perfect. Nicolas Cage is a wild card… so I’ll withhold judgement.
The great thing about Stallone is that he writes movies with Americans who are big and bold and sure of themselves. He writes about characters who know what they believe and why they believe it. They have a big heart, but they also have big guns. Moral relativism is nowhere to be found. Characters must grind through tough times to persevere, and even when they lose the audience knows that there can be honor in defeat.
Film snobs and elitist jerks make fun of Stallone, but in between the blood and guts and greased up muscles is often some great writing that can only come from the heart. There are plenty of iconic Stallone scenes, but how many kids went to the theater and were deeply affected by the father/son speech in Rocky 6? I’d bet a good many. In it, Stallone presents a door to conservatism—it’s just up to the viewer to recognize it and walk through.
When The Expendables 2 comes out I’ll be there on opening night, if for no other reason than because I think Sly is a stand up guy who deserves to be supported. He’s a rarity in Hollywood: a conservative who makes entertaining films.