The Expendables is about a group of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) who are given a job by a celebrity cameo. They go to an exotic made-up South American country, do a bit of the job, decide better of it but then change their minds when Barney goes back to rescue an evil general's daughter. Really the plot isn't that important if we're honest. But don't worry, there are lots of explosions.
Find out what we thought of the film after the jump... The Expendables (15)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Running time: 103 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here
The plot: A group of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) are given a job by a celebrity cameo. They go to an exotic made-up South American country, do a bit of the job, decide better of it but then change their minds when Barney goes back to rescue an evil general's daughter. Really, the plot isn't that important if we're honest.
What's good about it? Stallone sure can direct an action scene, ruthlessly filling the screen with death, destruction and a lot of gore without overly succumbing to sub-Bourne shaky-cam syndrome that infects even the best action movies (that means you The Dark Knight). Out of the parade of OAP muscle men, Dolph Lundgren stands out as the psychotic Gunner who gets the first blood soaked kill of the movie and is trying to hang a pirate whilst fighting off Jet Li within the first five minutes. Of the 'younger' cast members, Jason Stratham is the most enjoyable to watch and easily out charismas Sly.
What's not so good? It's hard to criticise this film, not because there is nothing wrong with it, god no, there's loads - but it is so unashamedly balls-to-wall ridiculous that moaning about the lack of character development (there is none) seems redundant. Having said that, let's at least try – the plot is far too messy, the best of the 80s action films were sharp and to the point – eg. New York Cop vs German terrorists, Vietnam vet vs the National Guard - here there are too many unresolved, unfleshed out sub plots and simply too much fat on the script. Talking of too much fat...
Stallone is way past the point off physical perfection and looks exhausted throughout. He has to run after a plane at one point and you just want him to sit down and take a breather. The much hyped roll call of old action stars isn't actually that impressive, Bruce Willis and Arnie turn up for a small, pointless and self referential scene in a church. There are many moments of awkward comedy (here's an idea, maybe don't cast Jet Li as a wisecracking joker, the man can barely speak English) coupled with an uncomfortable lingering on broken limbs and neck wounds. The film has two female characters in it, both of which are beaten at some point and require rescuing, there is also an almost identical scene to the one in Stallone's recent Rambo film where he saves a woman from being raped at the last minute by violently dismembering her would be attackers. Oh, and Mickey Rourke cries and paints a lot. Did no one tell him this was an action film?
Verdict: Does what it set out to do with a near relentless barrage of action scenes - it's a pity more thought didn't go into the story though. As an after thought, do you realise how worrying it is that the Governor of California is in this film? It's like Boris Johnson turning up in a Saw movie.