20th Century Fox
The Expendabelles (or ExpendaBelles or ExPenDaBelles or whatever) is a bad idea. Not because a female-led action franchise is a bad idea — no, not that at all — but because the planned plot for the Robert Luketic feature film is so counter-productive to the concept of making an exciting, fresh and original lady-centric action film that it almost verges into parody territory (paritory, for fun). When we first learned what the ostensible Expendables spinoff would be about back in February, it took no time at all to rip it apart. What, you don’t remember? Let’s refresh.
According to its official plotline, The Expendabelles is about what happens 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, [and] 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.”
In short terms: fuck this.
Back in February, I took the film to task for masquerading as a female-friendly feature while still wrapping the entire thing in a glossy sheen of sexism and inequality. Back then, I wrote “The ExpendaBelles should be about the physical power of women when it comes to kicking ass and taking names no matter their age or position, instead it seems that the film will place more value on showing ass and taking leers from baddies (who, yes, will probably be promptly murdered).” Is there a job that only women can do? Yes, in the world of the Expendabelles, there certainly is, but it’s one that they need to act like actual prostitutes to complete.
Again, actual prostitutes. Let that sit in for awhile. This is what The Expendabelles thinks of women.
I was further boggled by the giant swath of talented women the film hoped to employ as their ass-kicking call girls, from Meryl Streep to Angelina Jolie, Sigourney Weaver to Uma Thurman, Lucy Lawless to Lucy Liu. If there was some of limit on “ambition” as it applies to the feature, it sure seems as if the production used it (not expended it, we’re not doing that, no) all up on completely untouchable casting ideas, ensuring they’d be fresh out of new ideas by the time came for them to write the actual movie. Oops.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, two, really. In February, the film was aiming to shoot this summer. Labor Day is next week, so, no, this thing is not going to shoot this summer. The film has also started cycling through casting offers — which means that they are also cycling through casting declines. How do you stop a bad movie? Have its most brazen casting picks turn it down cold.
Over at THR, a report about Sigourney Weaver (an obvious, nearly essential pick for any female-led action feature) joining up with A Monster Calls includes a tantalizing little tidbit: Weaver was very recently offered a part in the film, one that she turned down. One down, a million more (give or take) to go. It’s certainly a start, because it’s damn hard to make a film (even a bad one!) without a cast. Here, take a look at The Expendabelles‘ IMDb page. Not a single cast member is listed. Does it seem like too big a hope that no one signs on for this film?
Meryl, we’re counting on you.