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The Expendables Review

by Russell Nelson. Published Thu 05 Aug 2010 12:55

This film is an unprecedented act of muscle-bound unity.

A vast posse of waning action stars have thrown themselves together in one film in the hopes of creating a macho supernova dazzling enough to impress their collective army of fanboys and save them all from a tragic fate of straight to DVD sequels.

Written and directed by Sly Stallone, it’s a brave effort to recapture action hero glory which doesn’t quite succeed.

The film’s plot is standard issue B-movie fare. An elite team of mercenaries gets hired by the CIA to take out a local tyrant and his drug dealing puppetmaster on an obscure South American island.

It’s an obvious suicide mission which predictably turns personal and explosive. By the looks of things the script was basically the phrase “It blows up!” written about a hundred times in very angry crayon.

To give the film its fair dues, they really do blow up an awful lot of stuff.

Helicopters, trucks, buildings, people... it turns out absolutely anything can explode. The films’ hulking cast is also very gifted at punching, stabbing or shooting other people in the face.

Clearly, they’ve had practice. There’s an abundance of bone crunching brawls and excessive CGI blood splatter to keep genre fans happy. It’s grisly and ruthless, but lacks much of the one liner charm of the best old school action flicks.

Sly Stallone, Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham have never been great enunciators, but their growling mumbles leave portions of this film in dire need of subtitles.

For most movies this would be a major problem, but it probably won’t bother fans content with big bangs and bruising mayhem.

It helps that the intricacies of the plot can be explained in one sentence and the cast basically play broad stereotypes of themselves.

The Expendables’ most interesting scene is the much hyped but brief onscreen union of Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s hard to imagine a more curious and unlikely spectacle than seeing these three titans of testosterone together at last.

It’s just a pity that Arnie couldn’t be persuaded to make more than a token appearance at the party. That really would have been worth watching.

The Expendables squeezes every drop of adrenalin leftover from the 80s and 90s into one glass, but unfortunately it still feels only half full.

The films’ parade of familiar faces will delight hardcore fans, but mostly misses the opportunity for greatness and self-referential humour.

A mix of curiosity, nostalgia and star power should guarantee box office success. It might even force a sequel, let’s just hope it’s not straight to DVD.


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"I'm sick of politically correct movies getting good reviews because they are about some minority issue. Bring back violence!" Rocky, Australia around 9 years, 11 months ago

"Great review. I want to know where I can buy some angry crayons :)" Gemma, In Dreams around 9 years, 11 months ago