"The Expendables" is a hard-hitting action/thriller about a group of mercenaries hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator. Once the mission begins, the men realize things aren't quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. With their mission thwarted...
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"The Expendables" is a hard-hitting action/thriller about a group of mercenaries hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator. Once the mission begins, the men realize things aren't quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. With their mission thwarted and an innocent life in danger, the men struggle with an even tougher challenge - one that threatens to destroy this band of brothers.
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If you grew up on a steady diet of action movies, if your bones hardened every time a muscle-bound guy dove away from an explosion in slow motion, if you hit puberty the first time you saw the hero of the hour bed his scantily clad damsel in distress, then it's impossible to resist the allure of a movie like The Expendables. It's the superband version of an action movie. It was created by an action star, its cast consists almost exclusively of action stars, and the only reason it exists is to put a smile on the face of action fans. And invariably it will do just that.
The question is how wide one's smile will be. The answer depends on how forgiving one is willing to be of The Expendables' faults, and there are many. It's a little slow-going at first, the characters are very thinly defined, some of the acting is spotty, and on the production front, Sylvester Stallone's knack for action scenes is thrown under the bus by a ton of visual shortcuts (CGI blood being perhaps the most egregious) that belie the film's obvious low budget. That said, Stallone's knack for gory, ultraviolent action is indeed so strong, his mind so tuned to the quirks and cliches that make action movies beloved despite their faults, that The Expendables kicks more than enough ass by the time credits roll to be worthwhile beyond just the novelty of seeing Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Austin, Rourke, Couture, Crews, Willis and Schwarzenegger all under one explosion-filled roof.
That was actually my biggest concern at the offset of the film, that the only ace up star/co-writer/director Stallone's ripped sleeve was his cast, but the best thing about The Expendables is that it could have worked with a roster composed entirely of no-name actors. It's fantastic to see some of these action movie titans go head to head (particularly so in the case of Lundgren), but the headliners surprisingly neither make nor break the movie. The script, which involves a gang of mercenaries overthrowing a South American dictator who has become a puppet of a rogue CIA agent, isn't particularly strong, but no one goes to an action movie expecting it to be a David Mamet-scripted battle of wits. The story just needs a firm enough framework to allow for enough scenarios for our heroes to punch, kick, stab, shoot and explode an army of bad guys. To that end, Expendables could have been given to a cast and crew of newcomers and still stomped in tons of face.
What actually hurts the film the most is that it is filled with veterans and promises of a return to old-school action, an era where the only thing bigger than the heroes' muscles was the body count left in his wake. The only thing wrong with the body count in The Expendables is that it takes too long to begin piling up, whereas the rest of the movie feels too small, too amateur hour considering its cast of pros. Nu Image, the chief studio financing Stallone's grand endeavor, is known primarily for making low-budget, straight-to-video movies; sadly The Expendables isn't going to shake that image any time soon.
There is a disappointing amount of poorly-rendered CGI blood and flames throughout the film, which completely goes against the "do it old-school" mindset one expects from all involved. It's hardly unwatchable, but there are times where the look of the film brings to mind the Syfy channel, and as any brave soul who has ever wandered into a Syfy Original Movie knows all too well, that is rarely ever a good thing.
However, even with lackluster production values, The Expendables still manages to be a wild, throat-slashing, elbow-dropping, grenade-throwing, trigger-pulling, and limb-dismembering good time. The last forty-five minutes alone are packed with more carnage than most action movies today can dream of delivering throughout their entire run time. The slow beginning gives way to a glorious orgy of death that generates a body count that would warrant UN intervention were it to have occurr
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