The Expendables

January 19, 2011

The Expendables


This film is all about the action, it has a plot that barely holds together and acting that is suspect at basically all points, but The Expendables has some value simply as an over the top action film.  And when you have an all-star action hero cast like you do in this film, it has to be expected that it is going to be at least somewhat entertaining.  Where else could you find a film with Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jet Li in it?

The story, like I’ve said, is a bit lacking.  Not all that much more than most action films, but it is a bit lacking.  It really starts with Sylvester Stallone, head of the Expendables, meeting up with Church (Willis) to find out about a new job of his crew (Li, Statham, Couture and Crews).  The job seems simple enough, but when Barney (Stallone) and Christmas (Statham) scout out the island and the leader that they are supposed to assassinate, they find out that everything isn’t quite as it looks, and that the leader, David Zayas, is more of a puppet than an actual leader being controlled by what Barney suspects is a CIA agent gone rogue, Eric Roberts, and his sidekick, Steve Austin.  Barney and Christmas decide that the job isn’t worth taking, but Barney has developed a crush on the General’s daughter, Giselle Itie.  So he decides to go back there by himself, but after he and Yin Yang (Li) are almost taken out by one of their old co-workers, Dolph Lundgren, the rest of the crew joins them as they go out to complete the mission and rescue the girl.

With the list of names that I’ve mentioned so far, it should be clear that there isn’t all that much acting involved and primarily blowing things up.  All the actors don’t need much of a mention for their acting skills other than that their acting is entertaining in these action roles and often entertaining because it is so poor.  When Mickey Rourke (a solid actor), Bruce Willis, and Charisma Carpenter are the best that a film has to offer, and all three are in smaller side roles, you know the film isn’t going to have great acting.

Visually, it is as one would expect for an action film of this sort.  An explosion here, and explosion there, Jet Li showing off some high flying moves, Terry Crews blowing people away with a shotgun, Randy Couture and Steve Austin showing off wrestling moves, and not all that much more that makes this a critically good film.  Much like the acting, it is just good and bad enough that you don’t notice it either way.  Plus, the amount of action going on the screen at most points in time keeps you from being able to focus on any cinematic quality that it might have had.

Stallone made the film that he wanted to make, and I think he made it fairly well, this film would have been better accepted in the 70’s or 80’s when Stallone was in his prime and action films like this film were more common and good plots in action films (and horror films for that matter) were less common.  But it can still be a very enjoyable film now, there is some over the top gore, and there is a plethora of violence, but it all comes together is a mish-mashed package that has a lot of fun and explosive energy to it.

Entertainment Grade: B-

Critical Grade: D

Overall Grade: C


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