Writer/director/actor Sylvester Stallone
did his best to collect every living action actor on the planet for The Expendables
, a throwback to pointless action films from decades past. And the guys who signed up to be part of The Expendables
pack probably had a good time hanging with their cohorts, beating each other up, and taking part in over-the-top action sequences. But audiences who go into the film expecting non-stop action and lots of time spent watching Stallone, Jason Statham
, Terry Crews
, Dolph Lundgren
, Steve Austin, Jet Li
, and Randy Couture
do what they do best are going to be sorely disappointed by the film's slow pace and its many breaks for long, unnecessary dialogue-driven scenes trying to explain/forward a plot that doesn't make a lick of sense.
could have been a total mindless popcorn flick with eyeball melting action scene upon action scene. Which, when you look at the cast list, is what you expect and want. These actors are known for mixing it up onscreen (or in fighting arenas), and that's the reason most people will be buying a ticket to check the film out. But Stallone opted to try and pull together a real story about a rogue CIA agent, a corrupt dictator, and a suicide mission that takes the group to the fictional country of Vilena. The story's so silly as to be an annoying intrusion on the action scenes scattered too far apart. Because of all the dopy exposition we have to sit through to get to the action sequences, The Expendables
only sporadically delivers on its promise of old-school thrills.
Sylvester Stallone in 'The Expendables.'© Lionsgate Films
Still, there are some pretty incredible fight scenes within The Expendables
' 103 minutes as well as some genuinely funny moments (who knew Jet Li actually has some comedy chops?). The opening scene involving failed negotiations with Somalia pirates and the rescue of their prisoners starts the film off on the right foot - and if said foot belongs to a pirate, it gets promptly blown off. And then when Stallone meets Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger for a brief scene having to do with the job in Vilena, it's...well...nirvana to action movie fans. But then things get rocky when our heroes have to decide on whether or not to take the job by talking about it too much and forgetting they're in what's supposed to be a non-stop action film. When you've got that many actors together who are used to beating the crap out of their opponents, put them to use and don't have them standing around talking about what they could or should be doing.
And what's Mickey Rourke doing in this film? Playing a tattoo artist named Tool who owns the warehouse where the gang hangs out in their downtime, Rourke doesn't get to be involved in any of the action, but he does get to actually act his pants off. Rourke's performance just goes to show how little acting is required of his co-stars, and feels completely out of sync with the rest of the film.
The other big problem with The Expendables is that a good portion of the action scenes are shot so that it's impossible to tell who is fighting who or, if you know the antagonists, who's actually winning. Audiences aren't choosing to see The Expendables because they're expecting Oscar-caliber acting or screenwriting. No, we all want to see what happens when you put this many physically strong actors together in one film. So, not actually letting us get a good look at some of the carefully choreographed fights is frustrating and disappointing.
If Stallone had cut out the side plot involving Jason Statham's girlfriend, cut out half the dialogue, and concentrated on just giving into his inner action beast, The Expendables would be one of the summer of 2010's must-see action films. As it stands, it's one of those movies best watched on DVD or Blu-ray where you can fast-forward any time you see someone open their mouth to talk.
The Expendables was directed by Sylvester Stallone and is rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language.
Theatrical Release: August 13, 2010
This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy