We've wanted an all-female version of The Expendables for some time now, and when producer Avi Lerner started throwing around possible names like Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, and Mila Jovovich for his upcoming answer to our prayers, we relished the thought of seeing these ladies team up a la Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Jason Statham in the last Expendables flick. But now, it's time to start shaking our heads in utter rage and disappointment.
We now know the plot, director, and screenwriters for the all-woman Expendables — with the ABC Family-approved title The ExpendaBelles. The logline is not only a tired jumble of action hero tropes thrown into a basket and served up like day-old chili, it's served up with incredibly, utterly patronizing icing to boot. But more on that in a minute.
Lerner also reportedly just hired Robert Luketic on as the director to accompany the film's screenwriters, Legally Blonde scribes Kristen Smith and Karen McCullah. Luketic, known for directing rom-coms like Killers (Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher), The Ugly Truth (Heigl and Gerard Butler), and Legally Blonde, is set to helm the lady version of a movie that should be so chock of full of action it makes Jean-Claude Van Damme winded just watching it. See, he's super qualified because his main area of expertise is meet-cutes and makeover montages.
The Expendables was directed by Stallone — freaking Rambo himself — and the second film in the series was helmed by Simon West, director of such incredible action messes as Con-Air and The Mechanic. We finally get an all-woman Expendables and not only does it need a ridiculous, girlish name like The Expendabelles, but it's brought to the screen with the help of writers and a director who are newbies to the action genre.
And it doesn't get much better when we learn the plot, according to Deadline:
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.
It's "a mission so impossible that only women can handle it" but they only enlist the ladies once the entire population of Navy SEALs is wiped out. Is that supposed to be empowering? We're told this action hero job is too tough for men, so we must be complimented when we're assured that women — as the superior sex — can handle the job. Well, slap a gold star on my forehead and color me pretending to be flattered. I thought this lady Expendables thing was about equality and not a battle of the sexes, but go on.
But what's this? The reason the mission requires women is that only they can pose as high-class hookers for a dictator. The thing they're saving is an important scientist, who's there to save the day and one can only hope after all this nonsense the writers had the good sense to make that top nuclear mind a woman. Still, this is their action hero skill? The way they're able to save the day is first through their sexy feminine wiles and second with their battle abilities, if they even get to that after all the hooker jokes? I think I speak for most women who love action movies when I say this is complete bullshit.
When we hoped for a lady Expendables, we hoped it would actually be like The Expendables, not Charlie's Angels 2K14: Call-Girls on a Plane. Would it be so inconceivable to have the film helmed by an action genre director instead of a Rom-Com guru? Would it kill the writers to give these women normal action hero plots instead of relegating them to acting as sexual objects? Was Lerner even listening?
Apparently, this is what we get when we ask for a movie glorifying women as action heroes: the same patronizing crap Hollywood's delivered for years. Then again, we probably should have known better.
Image: Sony Pictures