If you were to draw up a list of the ten worst directors currently working in Hollywood, you’d have to save space for Simon West, who came out swinging with the botched delirium of sub-Bay actioner “Con Air” and has only gone downhill from there. West’s films are cacophonous noise tunnels where the human spirit is unwelcome, where cynicism and craven stupidity triumph over creativity and ingenuity. Each one of his films has either a ripe premise, a great cast, or a too-big budget, only to be squandered by his narrow vision and neanderthal caveman storytelling. Yet somehow, Sylvester Stallone, who normally has an ear for his dyed-in-the-wool fans on the internet, has picked Simon West to helm “The Expendables 2.”
The first film was meant to be a celebration of machismo, though Stallone’s ham-handed direction (which betrayed the sharp grindhouse sensibilities of “Rambo” and the sparse grunt poetry of “Rocky Balboa“) tried to do too much with story and not enough with spectacle, coming across as one of those plot-heavy direct-to-DVD actioners that forget the sizzle in the steak in a forced attempt at legitimacy. We’ll be optimists and say that many of the “Expendables‘” problems could have been solved by the decision to shoot for an R-rating (‘Expendables’ was clearly intended to be PG-13, with the gore and coarse language added after the end of production), but Stallone and company seem to think going with a “seasoned pro” is the better route. Can’t blame Stallone for stepping down from the director’s chair, as he will be sixty-five when production starts, though we do wish his choice had been more adventurous.
Deadline says “The Expendables 2” will shoot this summer, but that seems to contradict the news regarding the untitled actioner Stallone has set up with Walter Hill (now THERE would be a great “Expendables 2” choice). Shooting starts on that project later this month, which means getting the crew together (including always-busy potential villain Bruce Willis) might happen in the fall. Though we’d never want to rush a sixty-five year-old man, Stallone, West and company had better hustle, as “The Expendables 2” already has an August 17, 2012 release date.