Maybe Stallone was on to something


Yesterday, we let you know that Bruce Willis had effectively been chucked from the upcoming Expendables 3. Also, that the spiritual heart / driving force of the franchise (i.e., Stallone), had Tweeted a foot into his ass on the way out the door, calling Willis “greedy.”

If you’re like me, you might have initially been a little confused as to whom exactly to root for in this little spat. It’s often tough to pick sides when two rich, famous, privileged types decide to whip ’em out, and see who can piss higher on the alpha-dog tree.

This might help clear it up.

According to MTV UK, Rocky booted Hudson Hawk from the film due to the fact that Willis wasn’t happy with his paycheck. See, he had been in line to get $3 million for four days’ worth of shooting. But Willis decided that was insufficient for a star of his talent and calibre, and instead demanded an extra million on top of that – a grand total of FOUR million. For four days. Which, if you’re doing the math, works out to be…Let’s see…Carry the two, and – Yeah. A cool million bucks a day. 

Needless to say, this was deemed by Mr. Rambo to be unreasonable. So, that’s why it’s evidently out with the John McClane, in with the Indiana “Han Solo” Jones.  

[Insert ‘Sad Trombone’ sound here.]

Look, maybe I’m being a little harsh. But I don’t think so. Sure, Willis gets massive amounts of money for being Mr. Steely-Eyed Action Hero Guy in a lot of other stuff. And, admittedly, he’s pretty damn good at it, if you’re into that sort of thing. But when you’re talking about a flick like The Expendables, it’s a different ballgame. The whole point of the entire deal is the ludicrous number of all-stars in the ensemble cast. Nobody really gives much of a shit about the story, because that’s really not what got them in the door.

Nope. The reason people showed up is to see more stars per square inch of space than there are in the average collapsed supernova. You ponied up for the ticket not because you want some touching, classically-inspired Merchant-Ivory tale of heartbreaking beauty, but because you want to see Jet Li / Jackie Chan / Jason Statham / Dolph Lundgren / Jean-Claude Van Damme / Steven Seagal and every other cigar-chomping, bullet-spitting human wrecking machine slugging it out in one giant cartoon cloud. Like the kind from the old “Beetle Bailey” strips, with fists, feet, and pain-stars popping out of it at random intervals. Really, it’s cinematic wish fulfillment. Like when you were 12, and you got into an argument with the neighbor kid about whether or not Wolverine could kick Superman’s Kryptonian ass. 

(And, for the record, that is ALWAYS a debate worth having.)

So, in light of that, you’d assume that everyone involved understands going in that two important rules apply:

1) If you’re Action Guy, you want to be in this. Legitimacy. Street cred. And it’s fun. People will enjoy it, and that you’re in it. 
2) The cast is hilariously huge, and full of your contemporaries, so you’d do well to leave your ego at the door. Because you’re just not gonna get the payday or screen time you usually do when it’s solely YOUR vehicle.

And that makes Bruno trying to squeeze an extra bone out of the budget seem particularly churlish to me. Reminds me of every time I read about some big-headed football player demanding bonus bucks out of the salary cap. Sure, you’re a star. And you ostensibly deserve it. But ultimately, you’re also on a TEAM here, pal. A collection of like-minded people of similar backgrounds working toward a common goal – winning. And this is a team working with a finite budget. So When YOU ask for extra cheddar, you’re sending the sledgehammer-subtle message that you think you’re better than everyone else you’re marching down the field with. Which isn’t cool.

And in the long run, for want of an extra million above his take…Mr. Willis has now surrendered three.

Hilariously, I’m finding it impossible not to picture Stallone dressed up like Willy Wonka, complete with purple top hat and curly orange fright wig, drawling “You LOSE. You get NOTHING. Good DAY, sir,” out of the corner of his snarling mouth.

And now you’re picturing that, too. You’re welcome.