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The Expendables
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Charisma Carpenter, Giselle Itie, David Zayas, Gary Daniels and Hank Amos with cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Scriptwriters: Sylvester Stallone and Dave Callahan
Lionsgate
Rating: R for violence, language and scenes of torture
Running Length: one hour and 45 minutes
 
The Expendables is the perfect homage to the '80’s action films some of us grew up on. Wafer thin script, horrible acting and low budget special effects. It has them all. It is only the most die hard action fan that will be able to suffer through this one without at least one eye roll or audible sign of frustration. I had to laugh at the attempts made to deliver lines that were supposed to be dramatic but come off as humorous in light of the overall production. 
 
The meager plot line revolves around a group of mercenaries hired by some random guy to go into a country and overthrow its military leader and some American drug cartel. Led by an aged Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) these five washed up misfits decide to go up against impossible odds to reclaim a bit of lost honor. With everything stacked against them they rely on the one thing that made action hero’s in the 80’s a success. If it moves shoot it, if it is inanimate; blow it up. 
 
The main draw to this film is the only thing that makes it worth watching and that is seeing all the familiar faces that graced the action genre in its glory days. Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, and others make this a homecoming of sorts. Like great blues festivals that bring together the BB Kings and John Lee Hookers of the music world, The Expendables accomplishes at least that. At the same time it is sad to watch them try and run and jump. Even speaking seems to be hard for these guys who took too many sucker punches in their careers. I think I understood maybe one word from Lundgren and Stallone slurred and slobbered his way through most of the dialogue. 
 
All of this would be bearable if there had been an inkling of a decent storyline or some sort of camaraderie among the cast. These guys are supposed to have served together for years yet they seem so awkward and uncomfortable around each other. The banter and attempts at buddy moments seem so stiff and rehearsed. The plot is shallow and so riddled with holes that after a while you stop caring. It is rumored that Jean-Claude Van Damme was offered a role, but he turned it down claiming that there was no substance in the character!! You know that has to be bad! Granted these films where never huge on story arcs but this was pathetic. The only saving grace in the film are a couple of fun cameos and Mickey Rourke as a philosophical tattoo artist. 
 
It is rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language. The main issue is of course the violence. The language is rather tame considering they had freedom to slather it on if needed. There are lots, and I mean lots, of gun fights, knife fights, fist fights, and even a lovers spat. So keep that in mind when making your box office selection. Sadly I can only give this 2 out of 5 knee braces. I wanted it to be great and I looked forward to seeing all the guys together in one film. But the end result was just hard to watch. I have a feeling Schwarzenegger is feeling pretty good about his career decisions about now. So says Matt Mungle. 
 
Matt Mungle
 

 
Review copyright 2010 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.
 
 

As you can see from the cast list, just about everyone in Hollywood who can stand unaided is in this film. The story (co-penned by Sylvester Stallone) is about a group of mercenaries called The Expendables (watch the tattoos) who go around the world and accomplish impossible deeds (look out, A-Team). They acknowledge that time is going by and it is harder to stay in shape, though these guys are built like 18-wheelers (Dolph Lundgren like two 18-wheelers) and carry guns that weigh as much as the average boulder and sound like six July 4th fireworks displays.
 
The story has Stallone, as the leader of the group meeting with Bruce Willis who hires them for the job of doing a hit on a Latin American dictator, General Garza (David Zayas). Stallone and his partner, Lee (Jason Statham) head south as wild animal experts in their plane which has “Global Wildlife Conservancy” on the side, but is hiding plenty of armament. Though the list of stunt men in the film credits goes on and on, the stars were to have done a great many of their own stunts. One has Statham out in the open on the front of the plane with a machine gun.  
 
It turns out that their contact in this country is the general’s daughter, Sandra (Giselle Itie) who opposes everything he stands for. The villains are not only the general, but an American (Eric Roberts) who wants to get into the drug trade. Before you can say, “you are not supposed to be there,” people are being captured, escape, re-captured, escape again, water-boarded, beat-up, and all with enough explosives to deafen the audience for a week. Stallone develops a liking for Sandra, but this is a man’s film with no romance scenes, so they look longingly. Statham also has a girl, Lacy (Charisma Carpenter) who wants to know what he does for a living, but he won’t tell. Each of the action stars is given some dialogue to kind of flesh out their story and there is a bit of tongue-in-cheek banter when Schwarzenegger is on camera or when Steve Austin and Stallone have a fight. 
 
The Expendables has a few quiet moments, but that’s about it and the last half is non-stop action. All in all, this film goes no where, but to have all the guys together is a feat and who cares if Mickey Rourke is a tattoo artist. With Dolph Lundgren fighting Jet Li (who is half his size) and Terry Crews talking to his gun, I just sat back and relaxed. Wonder what Arnold Schwarzenegger will do when he is no longer governor of California?
 
Copyright 2010 Marie Asner


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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