Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Premise: A group of mercenaries take a job to remove a South American dictator from power.
What Works: The Expendables is a throwback to the action films of the 1980s and it combines the talents of many of the genre’s most recognizable faces including Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Steve Austin, and Dolph Lundgren. It is a lot of fun watching these manly men doing manly deeds while saying manly things. The film also has a healthy sense of humor and the banter between the actors is fun.
What Doesn’t: The Expendables does not go far enough as an action film or as a piece of kitsch. The film assembles an impressive roster of recognizable action heroes but there isn’t enough self-consciousness about what putting all these faces together means. With visuals like Steve Austin and Sylvester Stallone getting into a brawl or Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis making cameo appearances in the same scene, The Expendables ought to have some kind of big idea behind it, or at least a sense of self-consciousness. But too often The Expendables comes off as just another buddies-in-action flick. The action sequences are too restrained and the actors play it too straight, not going far enough over the top. The plot, such as it is, hits a lot of the familiar plot beats and a lot of the twists in the story mirror similar 1980s action homage pictures like The Losers and The A-Team.
Bottom Line: The Expendables is fun but it isn’t the definitive action picture that its casting implies that it ought to be. Those looking for a shoot-em-up adventure will enjoy it but a lot of the actors involved have made better pictures than this.
Episode: #302 (August 22, 2010)