"The Expendables" Movie Review (2010)

8/14/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Expendables"

Movie Review

Directed by Sylvester Stallone, Written by Stallone and Dave Callaham, 103 Minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Let's be straight, here--with a cast like this, anyone going into "The Expendables" probably knows what they're in for. "Waiting for Godot" this is not, and thankfully its co-writer, director and star Sylvester Stallone knows this just as well as his audience. He has filled his would-be magnum opus to the brim with action superstars young and old, but does it make up for a mediocre plot? Surprisingly, it kind of does. But only to a certain point.

The Expendables are a group of mercenaries hired to do the dirty work most people don't want to do. They are: Barney Ross (Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Tool (Mickey Rourke) and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren). Each, like their real-life counterparts, have very specific talents in their field, and together they form pretty much the perfect team.

Tool, the group's stay at home member who just sort of sits around, answers phones and gives them their super-cool tattoos, gets a call for three different jobs--two "walks in the park," probably not too much unlike the brief opening action sequence where the group takes on some Somali pirates, and one "to Hell and back." The latter certainly intrigues Barney.

The job is to head into a compound on a remote island and eliminate its military dictator, General Garza (David Zayas) and the former CIA agent who has been funding him, Monroe (Eric Roberts). It gets a bit more complicated when Garza's daughter gets involved and the Expendables learn the relationship between the agent and the general isn't too friendly.

It's not a great plot, or even a good one, really, but it's a perfect means to get a lot of stuff blown up pretty good and to display the talents of the actors involved. Everybody gets their moment, and they all work pretty well together, especially Stallone and Statham, who seem like a born action duo.

The best setpieces of the film, though, tend to be the simpler ones--Stallone's direction is far from sophisticated or even comprehensible a lot of the time, so the big gun battles and multiple fistfights going on at once get pretty muddled in quick cuts and far too many close-ups. The best action sequence is probably one early on between Jet Li's Yin Yang and Lundgren's strung out Swedish flip-flopper Gunnar, who briefly joins the dark side when Stallone forces him out of the team.

Even the lesser moments in the film tend to work well enough, though, due to the novelty of seeing all of these meatheads get together, throw each other through walls and chuckle at each other's bad jokes. The scene where Stallone receives the Garza job is particularly amusing, as its two highly publicized cameo appearances (Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger) add a lot of atmosphere and background to the whole affair--it's like we're watching the culmination of all of these people's careers, and in doing so Stallone cleverly opens up the world of his Expendables to endless continuation, whether in prequels, sequels, or comics.

The only thing missing (besides Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme--seriously, guys, you better be in the sequel) seems to be a little bit of life. Stallone's direction is just too dreary, and despite some surprisingly decent performances (mostly from a heartbreaking Rourke and scene-chewing Roberts) it just isn't as fun as it seems like it should be. But Stallone does prove there's still some room left in the action genre for these titans, and it wouldn't hurt to see them reunite for another round.

Grade: C+

View the trailer for "The Expendables" below.  What did you think of the movie?

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