The Expendables Review

August 14, 2010 at 8:43 am (Movies)

Stop me if you’ve  heard this joke. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all walked into a bar, and they decided to make a movie about it. The bloody, testosterone-fueled macho child of a film is the punchline. To test and see if you would like this film, examine this piece of dialogue, directly quoted from the film. Steve Austin-“How many men do you bring with you?” Sylvester Stallone-“Just your mom.” Maybe you didn’t laugh at that, but maybe you chuckled in your head. Now imagine the Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash guy dressed in all black mowing down a ton of thunder brigade soldiers with the biggest shotgun you’ve ever seen, afterwards screaming to his teammates “Don’t ya’ll forget ‘dat at Christmas!”. If that is what you would define as “awesome”, then The Expendables is just the film you’ve been looking for as if you couldn’t already guess. The Expendables is macho energy piled on macho energy that provides for a film experience that may not be the sharpest knife in the gallery, but it’s a film with a cast like no other that couldn’t be assembled by anyone but Sylvester Stallone, the godfather of action films, and boy does he put the emphasis on the action.

The film follows a group of mercenaries, and as you might have guessed, they’re called The Expendables. After a former CIA operative has went rogue and taken control of an elite drug operation, it’s up to the Expendables, who by no means are afraid to get their hands dirty, to go under the radar and clean up the mess. In case you’ve missed the blatant nature of the posters, television spots, and the diamond-studded trailers, this film is built on its cast. Sylvester Stallone, being the writer and director as well, leads the way with his completely incoherent dialect (I think Dolph hit him too hard in Rocky 3), and considering he’s 64 years old only makes it that more amazing that he could kill any other cast member with his bare hands. Jet Li has some pretty great moments and seems like he’s the only member of the team that knows martial arts, and UFC Fighter Randy Couture has his moment in the sun as well. Mickey Rourke pops in occasionally in an odd feeling southern accent considering we heard him 3 months ago indistinguishably as a Russian, and the modern day action super star Jason Statham pulls the main emotional arc of the movie. Eric Roberts plays the cheesy 80s action villain like it was his second nature, and one of my favorites Stone Cold Steve Austin kicked some considerable tail. My favorite though by the end of the film though remained Terry Crews as the humorous “Hale Ceasar”, who comes off terrifying when he’s wielding a gun that’s even bigger than him.  A cast like this only comes around once in a blue moon, and Stallone makes full use of it. It’s almost like that time in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when you see Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse together, only Stallone could bring all the modern day action stars under one roof in the name of kicking butt and taking names. The action in the film takes full advantage of the R rating. There are some huge action shots you’d have to see to believe. Blood shoots in multiple directions, bodies get broken in half, people burn, bones are very visibly broken, it’s everything you could ask for. Stallone proves he’s a master of his craft with shots of action that left my theater in utter disbelief that almost put us into an awesome-induced coma. Hand-to-hand, gun play, larger than life airplane fights and firefights with hundreds of men, it’s all second nature, just like breathing to Stallone and his crew in front of and behind the camera. It’s like a giant Christmas present to fans that grew up with First Blood, Rocky, Die Hard, or even now with UFC or just the folks that like the Old Spice commercials. It’s not really something I can explain, it’s just something any action fan should witness in a crowded room of other action fans.

If there’s something I could complain about, it’s Stallone’s odd choices of camera angles in the film. My film nerd over powered by 10 year old self long enough to notice he gets some odd close ups to some of the actor’s faces during exposition. We get it Mickey Rourke has more gaps in his face than the Grand Canyon, we got it Stallone. Also, although it was less of a problem than it could have been, the film’s action pieces suffer a little bit from disorient-ia, shaking and moving back and forth a little too much to tell exactly what’s going on 100% of the time. One of my favorite aspects of the film is, as if you couldn’t tell from the poster, its machismo flair. I came close to using the term “B Movie”, but by no means when you have Stallone and Willis in the same room do you use that term without having your spine removed. There were moments I just laughed at the macho-ness of situations (there’s a lot of scenes of “guy talk” in the expendables’ own “man cave” which turns out to be a garage), and of course they have all of their own bikes, tattoos with the skull/raven combo, and their own flipping war plane that acts as their own steroid-induced mystery machine. This film couldn’t play major league baseball mainly b/c it couldn’t pass a drug test, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It harkens back to the simpler times of action movies where it is just as simple as “here’s the bad guy, here’s the romance, here’s the cheesy dialogue,  here’s the awesome finale with the good guy/bad guy showdown”, and there’s not a problem with that. Even though I sort of wished the story could have been a little more complicated than it was and fleshed out just a tad bit more, there’s not much wrong with a straight-forward action movie that gives fans exactly what they want. Also, just in case you were wondering, the Bruce Willis/Governator cameo is one of the best scenes in the film. It has a one liner that had our theater in hysterics, and getting to see ol’ Schwarzenegger emerge through those doors, the light shining around him, the way Stallone knows that you know that moment is so unbelievably awesome, brought me back to my child hood as he looked almost exactly like he did in Terminator 2. Just think, you get to see Rambo, John McClane, and The Terminator all in one room. The Expendables is a super easy film to recommend. If you like the trailer, you’ll love the film. If you wanna see any person that’s ever been in an action film lately beat up South American guys, this is the film for you. If you wanna see Rocky and Ivan Drago team up with the Old Spice Guy and the Transporter, pay the $8.75 and see by far one of the most satisfying action films that brings me back to my days of being a ten year old, even though my dad would never have let me watched this at ten years old.

3 stars out of 4

(*Disclaimer-I’ve switched to the Leonard Maltin style of scoring out of 4 stars for the time being, it just felt a little more professional I guess. I may switch back eventually, just gonna try this out.)


  1. The James said,

    sounds…actiony! I would really like to see this one…I love violence…

  2. earlman27 said,

    Then you sir have found your perfect movie. It’s sorta like you can overlook the bad parts of the film just because you can respect all that’s going on for the movie.

  3. KingreX32 said,

    I HAVE GOT TO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!! Im an action movie junkie and all these actors in one flick is just too much awesome to handle. I need to see this.

    Dude has you seen Scott Pilgim yet? It looks like a super cool movie.

  4. earlman27 said,

    You’ll definitely love it, it’s like pure joy for anyone who’s ever loved an action film with any of these guys in it.

    I’ve not gotten to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World quite yet, but I’m seeing it sometime this week. The film looks amazing, it’s gotten great reviews and some amazing buzz, I could see it being my favorite film ever as it is “Romantic Comedy + Superheroes (Sort of) + Visual Flair + Edgar Wright”.

  5. KingreX32 said,

    I will be looking forwrd to your review.

  6. earlman27 said,

    Thank you very much my friend I very much appreciate that. The review will probably be up in the Tuesday-Wednesday region.

  7. darkcloak said,

    I’ll see it when it comes out on dvd

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