September 2, 2010

The Expendables (2010)

STALLONE. STATHAM. Li. Lundgren. Willis. Rourke. Schwarzenegger.

To men of a certain age, the premise (and promise) of having all these guys in one film – an old-school love letter to the blow-‘em-up action movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s – seemed like a dream come true.

Or, maybe too good to be true…?


A shady figure (Bruce Willis) hires mercenary Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his crew – including a knife expert (Jason Statham), a martial artist (Jet Li), an explosives specialist (Randy Couture), a loose cannon (Dolph Lundgren), and an all-around badass (Terry Crews) – to bring down a Latin American dictator (a cartoonishly accented David Zayas) who’s backed by a rogue ex-CIA man (Eric Roberts).


On paper – or more specifically, the poster – The Expendables should have been a cinematic savior, a shot in the arm of the summer movie season. Only adding Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who turned Stallone down) would have made it even more awesomely complete.

Yet despite all the action, gunplay, carnage, and stuff blowing up real good, there’s a feeling of detachment from what’s going on.

The script (by Stallone and Dave Callaham), while heavy on macho talk and tough-guy jokes, comes off as less than fluid. It feels more like each character is making statements rather than conversing with their co-stars.

And after an exhilarating, bloody opening scene of Ross’ unit rescuing hostages from Somali pirates, this action film is (gasp!) surprisingly quiet for the next 30 minutes before bringing back the boom. It all ends with a 20-minute assault on the dictator’s palace that plays out like Rambo & Friends, as Ross’ five-man unit decimates an entire army without one of his guys getting killed, shot, or even injured.

Of all the stars of The Expendables, it’s Statham who’s the breakout. He’s an impressive badass with his knife skills, he does some gonzo hand-to-hand combat, and he’s the only character with some sort of background in the form of estranged girlfriend Lacy (Charisma Carpenter).

In terms of The Expendables’ lesser-seen star power, Mickey Rourke is entertaining in his three-scene cameo as a former member of Ross’s crew. But the 5-minute summit between Stallone, Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger feels like a first take (and half of what Schwarzenegger says is unintelligible).

Ultimately, The Expendables lives up to its title: While passably entertaining, it’s highly disposable.


Is it suitable for your kids?
The Expendables’ body count is ironically countless, as dozens if not hundreds of people are killed by the time the credits roll. There are shootings, stabbings, dismemberments, exploding bodies, and broken necks o’plenty – as well as a scene of torture involving waterboarding. Oh, and there are a handful of profanities.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Highly doubtful.

You look familiar. Have I seen you around Planet Hollywood?

The Expendables
* Director: Sylvester Stallone
* Screenwriters: Dave Callaham, Sylvester Stallone
* Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Eric Robers, Steve Austin, David Zayas, Charisma Carpenter, Giselle Itié
* MPAA Rating: R (strong action and bloody violence, language)

Buy The Expendables from (DVD) >>
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Anonymous said...

The Expendables is everything I hoped it would be, I'm seeing it again. If you haven't seen it yet, GO!

new movies said...

Thanks for rating the movie and the review. I haven't watched this movie yet but has planned to watch it coming weekend. I m having great expectation with this movie. Hope all goes well and the movie will be entertaining to watch.

Stu said...

I concur. I was really glad that Statham was the no. 2 guy as most of the other performances were lazy if not downright bad.

The Willis, Stallone, Schwarzenegger scene is one of the most awkward things I've ever had to sit through (the audience went silent and confused at the "are you gonna start sucking each others dicks?" joke).

Surfer Jay said...

Yeah I'm not too surprised about all this. It certainly seems like one of those hollywood movies, made by and made for hollywood, with a conglomoration of stars. Those never quite work out they way we all hope they would.
I'll wait for the dvd. (But of course I could never pass this up, as I grew up on Arnie movies and worked out to his books, and Statham always rocks....well no, except for High Voltage 2.....horrible.

But it also sounds reminiscent of Commando with the 'without one of his guys getting killed, shot, or even injured.' And in defense of that implausible scenario, I have to say that it totally worked in Commando. I must have watched that every week untill I hit puberty. And that also raises the question though, would I have loved Commando if I hadn;t been a little kid when I first saw it? And if so, will my 12 year old brother in law love this movie because of it's kill ratio? Probably.

James (SeattleDad) said...

So, right up there with UP huh?

I'll pass on this one. Mrs. LIAYF would never watch it with me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, I was hoping this was a movie the hubbie and I could go see together. I can't get him to chick flicks. Imagine that!!!
Think I'll pass on this one, though. Thanks for the heads up.


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