We try to remain optimistic about movies still in development. We're called Movies.com, afterall, and we'd rather stay excited about movies instead of crap all over them before we've even seen them. Having said that, after today's news we're having a hard time getting excited for The ExpendaBelles, one of two all-female knockoffs of The Expendables in the works.
For starters, Millennium Films has hired Robert Luketic (whose closet thing to an action movie is Killers with Katherine Heigl, as seen above) to direct the film. That's an obvious source of frustration considering it would seem like a no-brainer to hire a female to direct an all-female action movie. And that's not even an issue of affirmative action, but if the gimmick of your movie is that it's intentionally all females who kick ass, why not hire a kick-ass female to direct it all? Especially when the script is being written by two women: Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah (Legally Blonde).
But we can get around The ExpendaBelles having a female director. That's not nearly as disappointing as the synopsis released for the film:
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.
That just sounds like the dumbest, most insincere way to justify an action movie starring women. And while we'd love to rant about why it strikes us as so cynical, Kate Erbland and Film School Rejects already beat us to that:
While it still seems too much to ask for a female-centric action film that doesn’t rely on sex appeal to sell its material, this is a new level. Sure, there are some vaguely bolstering bits here – “only women can handle it” – but those zippy points are instantly dashed by the indication that only women can handle the situation at hand because only they can use their bodies in a sexual manner to get at least a big part of the job done (oh, and also, all the men are dead). 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).
The Expendables may not be a great series of movies, but at least their plots are slightly more complex than your average late-night Cinemax movie, which The ExpendaBelles is really starting to sound like despite the production's apparent interest in the likes of Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz and Milla Jovovich to class up the project (none have currently signed to it). And I think the problem is that we're just disappointed that an all-female action movie has to fall into lame comedy territory to get made. Is it really that hard to figure out a way to write an action movie that isn't about a bunch of women pretending to be call girls to get their job done?
At least we'll have a rival all-female action flick to still hold out hope for. Producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Dredd) still has one lined up, and that version supposedly has Gina Carano, Sharni Vinson, Linda Hamilton and Pam Grier interested. Maybe it'll be closer to a real action movie and not something that sounds like it should play on Comedy Central in the late '90s.
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