Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, David Zayas, Steve Austin, Gary Daniels, Gisele Itie, Charisma Carpenter, Hank Amos, Amin Joseph, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone.
Released: August 13th, 2010.
Aside from “Inception”, it’s been a pretty lackluster summer of movies this year, much like 2009. However, despite a few setbacks, “The Expendables” does manage to light up the boring summer season of 2010 even though it’s coming a bit late. “The Expendables” follows a team of elite mercenaries – all played by Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Jason Statham, and Randy Couture – together this group is assigned by a secret operative (Bruce Willis) to overthrow General Garza (David Zayas), an evil Latin American dictator who rules on the fictional isle of Vilena, situated near the Gulf of Mexico.
However, General Garza is supervised by an ex-CIA operative named James Munroe (Eric Roberts) and his two henchmen Paine (Steve Austin) and Wickham (Gary Daniels). Garza doesn’t like being bossed around and his daughter Sandra (Giselle Itie) isn’t too happy about this arrangement either. If that wasn’t enough drama, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his team are dealing with their own. Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundren) is battling a lot of psychological issues which is placing a burden on the group, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) needs to spend more time with his future fiance who doesn’t know about his career, and the list goes on.
“The Expendables” tries its best to avoid making its characters seem like cardboard cutouts and it does this with good balance. With that said, considering this is a large cast, each cast member is given a fair amount of screen time and they all get a shot to do some cool and interesting stuff during the film. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger appear as cameos here alongside Sylvester Stallone in a brief three to four minute scene but the both of them are used very well. While the plot is somewhat simple and predictable, the real star of “The Expendables” are the performances themselves.
There is a lot of chemistry between the cast throughout the film, most notably between Stallone and Lundgren, Statham, and Rourke. Mickey Rourke is put to excellent use and he gives an impressively noteworthy monologue halfway through the film; Lundgren gets a lot of good one-liners here. The inspiration behind “The Expendables” draws from the hit action films from the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but aside from seeing the old veterans on screen, I couldn’t quite grasp the inspiration too much.
Don’t get me wrong, the action pieces in this are impressive and entertaining but it doesn’t feel like an action film from the 80’s or 90’s. For one, there’s a bit of shaky cam use during some action scenes which doesn’t quite fare well with 80’s and 90’s action films or let alone a sane-minded audience whom are not on a Red Bull diet. We all know shaky cam sucks (with the exception of movies like “Cloverfield” where it makes sense to have shaky cam), there’s no argument there. Secondly, it’s missing the soundtrack of an 80’s or 90’s action flick; this is where “Cop Out” succeeded. Last but not least, there’s not many good one-liners in this film when stacked up against 80’s and 90’s hits like “Tango & Cash”, “Under Siege”, and “Lethal Weapon”.
Overall, this doesn’t detract too much from the film to make it bad. Like I said, this is a film that is mostly performance-driven and the cast performs very well. Stallone and his team of expendables help carry this film all the way through until the end. We could use more films like “The Expendables” in future summer film seasons.