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After the most stressful week of the year at work, I was in a serious need of some down time today. Well, I say that, it was more of a case of not being able to move even if I did want to, and that was after eleven hours of catching up on sleep.
So the DVDs came out. Would it be Al Gore's environmentalist epic, a Tarantino art gang fest or a political and poignant Angelina Jolie effort? The hell it would - it was Mr Rarr's latest Lovefilm offering, The Expendables.
Basically grouping together all the best of the 80s and 90s action movie heroes in one script (apart from Jean Claude Van Damme who has had too much plastic surgery and thus looks too young and is still stuck on that mountain he advertises beer from anyway), The Expendables is a 2010 movie written by Sylvester Stallone. Alongside him in the cast are Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Jet Li (Hero), Arnie (Terminator from when it was great through to when it got stupid, but before it got good again), Dolph Lundgren (some random 80s stuff with JCVD pre-face lift), Jason Statham (dating Kelly Brooks / getting confused with Madonna's ex husband), Eric Roberts (no idea), Randy Couture (sounds a bit chavvy) and Mickey Rourke (some stuff I can't be bothered to watch).
Set in a sleep Somerset village in the late 1800s, The Expendables sees Lord Ross (Stallone) move to the country to recuperate from sickness. Whilst there, he falls for the charms of the youngest daughter of a local landowner, and in an attempt to woo her, stages an elaborate ball at his country manor to which he invites his city friends, Lord Christmas (Statham) and Road (Couture). What follows is an examination of the era's social restraints versus true love.
Alternatively, I might have made that up.
***THE REAL PLOT***
Stallone runs a band of pretty hot-damn hardcore mercenaries and rides around on a bike a lot. Statham is good with knives, Mickey Rourke is a tattoo artist / war veteran and Dolph Lundgren is just nuts.
The film opens on a hostage situation, to which a bunch of rather familiar looking chaps attend and "sort out". Cue graphic violence, yelling, people getting shot, fights, banter etc. But the "good guys" win out and the scene-setting scenario is soon over.
Then Jason Statham starts the "human interest" plotline - realising that, after over a month of not contacting his girlfriend, she has assumed herself dumped and moved on. Jason Statham is not a happy bunny because of this - something he proves whilst still being manly by throwing knives at a target but not very well. Aaw.
So that very basic, obvious scene setting aside, the real plot soon kicks in. There is one scene in which Willis and Arnie show up - that's their sole involvement which to me is a disappointment - and the mercenaries get hired for a job.
Frankly, shortly after that you're in action movie mode and there's not a vast amount I can say on here without ruining what is a fun film by elaborating further, so I shall surmise in a way that I doubt will have you reaching for the smelling salts in affronted shock. Stuff blows up. People get shot. Cars chase other cars. Men banter. More people get shot. Some pretty women appear. More things blow up. There's a bad guy - and another one. Eric Roberts turns out to be the smooth bad guy in a suit - because you need one of those to make an action movie (its actually a real law). Then stuff gets blown up some more.
***ALRIGHT, WE GET IT. IS IT ANY GOOD?***
I actually enjoyed it. I have to admit that with the cast being a bit of a gimmick - ie shoehorning a bunch of action movie stars together - I expected this would be more of a pastiche of an action film, but whilst there is humour there isn't that much of it and I wasn't exactly in hysterics.
That said, it is fast paced, action movie fun. I enjoyed it, it was mindless enough for my mindless state at the time of watching, and it never lagged.
Statham was given high billing in this which surprised me but his character was actually one of the stronger ones and he also got most of the best action sequences. Well, his stunt double did. His "human" storyline with Charisma Carpenter (her off Buffy) were short, but pretty decent all the same.
I think that the cast's impact as an ensemble was reduced by the fact that Arnie took about five seconds from his political career to walk in, deliver a line or two and leave looking like he was on his way to the canteen at his campaign office, in the same scene that Willis appears in his cameo. That scene was great for their appearance - real 80s / 90s homage - and you thought it was the start of the film proper, but they never appear again which was a disappointment (not that they're exactly Day-Lewis like in their gravitas, but its meant to be fun).
This is a film with characters called Yin Yang, Toll Road and Hale Caesar. It's not, in short, Shakespeare. They didn't stint on the "stuff what gets blowed up" budget and the script is sufficiently succinct and "blokey" - there's not a nice wife at home baking scones for any of this lot. There's a little character development but its all plot device and I find it particularly amusing that the "love story that never was" angle was between a very pretty young woman and the ageing writer, Mr Stallone. Well, if you went to the trouble of writing a film you would give yourself the perks, wouldn't you?
The fight scenes were good but there clearly wasn't much scientific training on the part of the continuity / production staff - human heads do not fall off that quickly and for all I saw a lot of "blood" in this film I've never seen it that vibrantly red in real life - clearly these people are all packing the Goji berries or something. It is very graphically violent, limbs get broken and Statham has a real thing for throwing a variety of sharp knives into people from various angles. Also I don't know where these guys are carrying all the explosives they stick to things but they always seem to have about 768 of them to hand at any one time and I can't get to London with lunch and a brolly unless I have a bag the size of Bolivia - so fair play to them. But it's a fun movie, not a documentary on war, and if you take it in the spirit it is intended and are not offended by over the top graphic violence and lots of things going "bang" then you might enjoy this. I'm not going to start a campaign to get it awarded a back-dated Oscar, but it was fun escapism when needed and sometimes that has a value all of its own.
Oh, where to begin with this movie... When I heard about the Expendables, I didn't know what to think. Now don't get me wrong; I love me a good brainless action movie, but the Expendables? It just seemed like a hyper-masculine vanity project gone horribly wrong. And then I actually saw the damn thing... So, grab your biggest cliches and start practice your best Stallone slur. It's The Expendables.
The Expendables centers around a group of international mercenary badasses, known ostensibly as the Expendables (although no-one ever actually calls them this), and their leader, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), who make their livings hiring themselves out as an extremely violent and literal troubleshooting team. When a mysterious CIA agent offers Ross a job in South America, he and his men gear up and head out, ready to destroy anything and everything that gets in their way. However, dark forces, both external and internal, threaten to tear the team apart... maybe...
Alright, the 'plot' of The Expendables is little more than a thin pretext to allow 'No-Spring-Chicken' Stallone and his mob of big-time action-heroes the freedom to stomp about, bitch at each other and shoot at literally anything and everything that moves. It's nothing you haven't seen done before and, what's more, seen done better. Apart from maybe Jet Li and Jason Statham, nobody here seems to know why they're here or what they're supposed to be doing, Stallone being the worst offender of the whole bunch. All he does is slur, shamble about and attack things, and he can't even do them right! His dialogue is as wooden and stiff as his body language, something which is elevated from simple being bad to mind-numbingly infuriating because THIS IS HIS OWN #@!*ING MOVIE!!! It's ridiculous but, in his own stupid vanity project, Sylvester Stallone is the single worst part of the entire damn movie by miles. The only person who actually gets anything that could even begin to be regarded as character development is Statham's gritty brit, and even that's just a pointless diversion to show us that one of the grunts has a girl he likes... maybe... The whole approach is just sloppy to the point of being almost insultingly stupid. But who expects plot from a movie like this? Can't we just sit back and watch the world erupt with gunfire and explosions? Well, we could... if these scenes were more than just a chaotic mess. A good action scene comprises dynamic camera angles, momentum and, above all, something interesting to hold the viewer's attention, none of which can be found in The Expendables. So, the characters suck, the dialogue sucks and the action sucks, leaving us with a total failure of a movie. But that should at least be funny, right? Right? This movie is a total train-wreck, failing to hit any of the targets it set out to and, because of that, it's hilariously easy to make fun of. There are scenes which are so stupid you won't be able to help yourself; you'll either laugh or cringe, and I recommend laughter. This movie ain't worth getting upset over.
The Expendables expends itself within seconds, never picking up above below average despite the star-studded cast. Everything about this movie feels like a failure, the kind of failure that should have been easily avoided but nevertheless wasn't. It's generic, dull and hilariously unaware of its own stupidity. If you like watching awful films because you find them funny, this crap is easy pickings, but otherwise give this one a wide berth. It stinks.
I'm not exactly the biggest fan of action movies, in fact there are many that I've never even seen, such as the Die Hard and Terminator series, but in recent months I've been watching a few more, most notably the Transporter and Crank series. I quite like Jason Stratham (not in THAT way) which has perked up my interest in this genre somewhat. So I was quite happy to receive The Expendables DVD from santa this year...sorry, last year.
The movie was co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone.
The Expendables are a group of mercenaries, namely: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Stratham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture.)
The plot is pretty straightforward. A group of mercenaries are hired to eliminate a corrupt dictator on a small island called Vilena somewhere off the coast of central America.
They get the job from someone using the alias Mr Church (Bruce Willis) who Stallone's character meets in a church (clever). This same scene features Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rival mercenary who turns the job down flat. A scene which promises so much yet delivers so little. Sure, Schwarzenegger and Stallone slag each other off for a few minutes while Willis smiles ruefully, but it could have been a lot better.
Obviously it's not as straightforward as that. The dictator is a mere puppet under the control of an ex 'agency' op (Eric Roberts), the real bad guy. Ross and Xmas check out the island arriving in, of all things, a flying boat or seaplane (flashback to Fantasy Island - ze plane, ze plane). They decide not to take the job, return home, then Ross decides to do it on his own (for no payment) and the others decide to help. (I can't help thinking that it's a strange, and unprofitable way for mercenaries to earn their living, but there you go.) What follows is an orgy of explosive action liberally peppered with ejaculations of testosterone and ripples of botox doused with gallons of tomato sauce (or whatever they use for fake blood these days). In the end, the good guys win...quelle surpise.
There are various subplots going on such as Xmas's girlfriend hooking up with some other guy who then beats up on her. Needless to say this is a big mistake on his part but it gives Stratham the opportunity to sort out the guy and his buddies in his own inimitable style. There's also a strange thing going on with Lundgren's character who kind of swaps sides and swaps back again, I think. Meanwhile, Stallone's and Mickey Rourke's characters are doing a bit of soul-searching and getting far too deep and meaningful for this sort of movie. However, these are merely sub-plots and more of a filler than a fulfillment.
It's all good fun but I got the impression that the making of this had more in common with a stag do than the making of a 'serious' action movie.
There's certainly plenty of action and not too much in the way of deep character portrayal to get in the way, but it's a little too shallow even for a film of its ilk.
Stallone is just too old to be playing these sort of roles - I get the feeling that Arnie and Willis were probably offered meatier roles but wisely had second thoughts. Stallone of the unfeasibly black hair and unwrinkled coupon puffs and pants his way through the whole movie and looks like he'd struggle to catch a bus never mind catch a seaplane on take off (which he astoundingly does).
Apart from Jet Li and Stratham, most of the other Expendables don't really have much too say for themselves (probably just as well) and in fact, what Li has to say isn't all that intelligible anyway. Ditto Mr Lundgren. As for Mickey Rourke's 'close-to-tears' scene, let's just say I was close to tears as well - well, laughing too hard sometimes affects me that way.
Another anomaly that struck me was that early in the movie the island is described as having a small population and an army of no more than few hundred. Strange, because the body count must have stretched into the thousands!
Having said that, it's all good fun and I don't think this was ever meant to be anything more than a tongue-in-cheek last action fling (and pay-day) for Stallone and a few others...until Expendables 2 (Escape from Twilight Home) that is.
Let's face it, none of these action films are/were exactly believable so why should this be any different. In fact when you think about it, is it any more ludicrous that a pensioner is jumping around, shooting off guns and tangling with half the cast of WWF or whatever than a young(er) guy like Stratham running around with an artificial heart whacking all in sight in the quest to find his real one? (Crank 2)
Nope, credulity rather than credibility is the order of the day here.
For all that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think I'd watch it again though and I can contain myself adequately waiting on the inevitable sequel, but I can think of worse ways of spending a couple of hours.
All said and done, I would still recommend this movie.
I usually don't bother with the extras on a DVD but made the special effort just for you guys.
Yes, scene, singular. One deleted scene from the whole movie? This is from the start of the film on the pirate controlled boat, Dolph Lundgren tells a crap joke before he shoots the pirate in two.
Easy to see why it was deleted.
This was OK but as it's essentially a collection of clips showing guys who haven't got the best diction in the world screwing up some pretty simple lines, it's not a great surpise. What is a suprise is Bruce Willis's difficulty in remembering the island's name, Seneta...Valletta...whatever. To be fair, there are a few laughs in it.
BEFORE THE BATTLE - THE MAKING OF THE EXPENDABLES:
A 23 minute documentary about the production of the film. I'm not a fan of these things as they take away the whole magic of the cinema for me. I had a quick scan, but it didn't hold my attention for much more than 23 seconds, never mind minutes.
AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH SYLVESTER STALLONE:
I'm sure this would be quite interesting if you could make out half of what Sly actually says. Again, I watched no more than a few minutes of the 100 or so on offer.
Stills, movie trailer etc. Since I'd already watched the film, I saw no need to watch the trailer.
Barney Ross (Sly Stallone) and his team are the Expendables, an international group of mercenaries paid to take risks that even the Navy Seals or SAS wouldn't dare, this grizzled team of veterans are asked to kill the dictator of a small island off the coast of Latin America by Mr Church (Bruce Willis), when scounting the location with Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Barney meets local rebel Sandra who explains what is really happening there, when he leaves she stays behind to fight for her people and he realises that sometimes doing the right thing isn't always the easy option.
Often in a film of this kind, you find people are either given little vignettes to do their bit, or try to outdo each other in their scenes, I actually thought the cast co-existed really well and while some of the lines are awful, the cast seemed to have a lot of fun. To explain who is in it, Stallone plays Barney leader of the Expendables, Jason Statham has a very large role as the nerveless Lee Christmas, Jet Li plays Yin Yang a martial arts expert, whilst the rest of the Expendables are former UFC World Champion, Randy Couture as Toll Road, former NFL footballer Terry Crews as gun enthusiast Hale Caesar and Dolph Lundgren as the hot headed junky Gunner Jensen.
Mickey Rourke plays a tattoo shop owner who passes on their work as a veteran who used to work with the team but now can't. His performance in particular was excellent, one scene with Stallone where he explains why sometimes doing the right thing, isn't always best for your safety was really emotive and his performance stands out throughout.
The rest of the good guys all get a chance to shine, Stallone still has all his credentials in check but has a great line in self-depreciation accepting he's ageing and getting beaten up a few times, Statham is the man on the rise here, all smart remarks and quick hands and feet, Jet Li gets some comedic moments and as always kicks some big guys backsides, whilst the other two also get good lines and plenty of action.
Lundgren in particular gets into his role brilliantly and seems to love playing a guy with a few issues, which he actually does pretty well.
There are cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger and we have Eric Roberts playing his bad guy, as only he can with support from WWE wrestler Steve Austin. There are also other UFC fighters as villains in the film. The film has a really good cast, you will watch and wonder who else could have been added to make it complete which is fun in itself.
Sylvester Stallone ... Barney Ross
Jason Statham ... Lee Christmas
Jet Li ... Yin Yang
Dolph Lundgren ... Gunner Jensen
Eric Roberts ... James Munroe
Randy Couture ... Toll Road
Steve Austin ... Paine
David Zayas ... General Garza
Giselle Itié ... Sandra
Charisma Carpenter ... Lacy
Gary Daniels ... The Brit
Terry Crews ... Hale Caesar
Mickey Rourke ... Tool
Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Trench (uncredited)
Bruce Willis ... Mr. Church (uncredited)
I came into this film with no expectations at all, which is never a bad thing, I expected lots of dumb explosions, lots of wise cracks and the appearance of as many action heroes of the last 30 years as could possibly fit into 92 minutes...........I wasn't disappointed.
This was an enjoyable film, the casting is very much the key and the script is tongue in cheek, it has its moments of downright nonsense as team members jump onto moving planes, or climb outside planes to shoot people, the guys all enjoy the wise cracks and the camaraderie and the fight scenes are a mixed bag, Austin uses some wrestling moves, the fight between him and Couture is a mix of wrestling and UFC in a gun battle whilst the others use trademark moves from their own films.
The humour is a constant, but underneath this quick easy film with lots of explosions and wise cracks there is a reasonable story which reminded me a lot of the A-Team (We have bought this and I'll review it soon), the story of a team of renegades who simply go places to help injustice.
There were plot inconsistencies, with these guys having steady streams of weapons which never seemed to run out, I also did laugh in a gun battle as Stallone stood still and shot 8 men running in different directions whilst shooting at him, whilst none of them hit this standing target, but these kind of things happen in these films. My only other complaint is that the fights near the end are all in darkness which I hate, I understand that technically this might have been necessary, but it did distract from my enjoyment somewhat.
A sequel is currently being worked on, names rumoured to be added to the project, include; Wesley Snipes, Mr T, Mike Tyson and Jean Claude Van Damme as well as Sandra Bullock, perhaps Stallone has found his action version of Oceans 11?
Overall a good film, I bought it for the other half on Amazon for £7.99 for Christmas and would recommend it as 90 minutes of fun which won't change your life but if you like any of these action heroes it will put a smile on your face.
I really liked a lot of the lines in the film, especially Stallone and Arnie's tongue in cheek jibes, but my favourite was:
Trench (Schwarzenegger): Have you been sick? You've lost weight.
Barney Ross (Stallone): Whatever I've lost you've found, pal.
(Film only review)
== The Expendables ==
A group of ruthless mercenaries that call themselves The Expendables, have been deployed to the Gulf of Aden to halt local pirates from killing a group of hostages. The team is made up of so many members and they are as follows Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), sniper Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), former SAS soldier and knife expert, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture). Ross pays the original agreement of $3 million to secure the release of the hostages. Once released the group plan on a new mission and are offered a few jobs.
After the release and a little bit further in the movie Ross then goes to a church, where he and his very bitter rival and former friend, Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) meet, Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) both these are just cameo appearances and they don't really brighten the movie or make it more ineffective, he offers them a mission in Vilena, a fictional South American country, to overthrow a brutal dictator, General Garza (David Zayas). Busy with other things, Trench gives the contract to Ross and also makes little jokes suggesting Ross isn't man enough for a mission like this. Ross and Lee Christmas do initial reconnaissance after meeting with their contact, Sandra (Gisele Itié), only for the mission to go twisted. Ross learns that Garza has ex-CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts)by his side, and henchmen Paine (ex WWE wrestler Steve Austin) and Wickham, a.k.a. The Brit (Gary Daniels), who control Garza by making his people fear him. Sandra is revealed to be Garza's daughter. Ross then decides to abort, and causes casualties among the army as they escape, but feels guilty for leaving Sandra behind and it stays on his mind. Meanwhile, Jensen approaches Garza and Munroe, identifying his former comrades.
All that happens at the beginning of the movie and will Ross and the team be able to complete there mission and will Ross get Sandra out alive. The story of the movie is quite good and makes a lot of sense, and it does revolve round all the members of The Expendables, so you don't get lost and think, well how come thats happened and stuff. In my opinion the story of The Expendables is simply perfect and does make the movie really good and interesting. With Lee Christmas (Statham) it revolves round his girlfriend, whom has moved in with some other guy, and shes being beaten by him, which in my opinion is a good way to show some variety of the storyline. The Expendables really does have an awesome plot and story.
=== Special Effects ===
The special effects in The Expendables, were simply brilliant and was totally breathtaking. With awesome fight scenes and quick fast paced action, to scenes with remarkable explosions and gut wrenching weapon scenes. Also when the buildings and other things are getting blown to pieces it just looks so real. The special effects in The Expendables, are simply the best effects I have seen in any movie for a long long time. They are simply beautiful.
=== Soundtrack ===
The soundtrack is maybe the weak link of the movie, but however its still good so I cant really say its weak. The music in The Expendables is quite good and each song goes well with its own scene. For example for a fast action fight scene, it was a fast and upbeat song. It was done quite well and here is a list of the tracks from the movie:
Castille - David Bradnum
Hacienda Grande - Michael Alan Levine
Mississippi Queen - Mountain
Keep On Chooglin' - Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Boys Are Back In Town - Thin Lizzy
Born On The Bayou - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites
=== Cast ===
The Expendables has one of the biggest casts in movie history and numerous actors turned down roles/cameos such as, Wesley Snipes, Jean Claude Van Damme, Forest Whittaker and Steven Seagal, all these actors turned down the chance to star in this movie for different reasons. However here is the stars that are in the movie:
Sylvester Stallone - as Barney Ross, as good as ever in his role!
Jason Statham - as Lee Christmas Top notch as always and always makes me laugh.
Jet Li - as Ying Yang, by far his biggest role to date and smartly done by the actor.
Dolph Lundgren - as Gunner Jensen, never been a fan but he did great.
Eric Roberts - as James Munroe, not much of an impact but not to bad.
Randy Couture - as Toll Road, Great performance.
Steve Austin - as Paine Brilliant from start to finish.
David Zayas - as General Garza, Pretty well executed and his performance had meaning.
Giselle Itié - as Sandra, played the role fairly well.
Charisma Carpenter - as Lacy, brilliant by far one of the best.
Gary Daniels - as The Brit, as good as ever.
Terry Crews - as Hale Caesar, no real impact.
Mickey Rourke - as Tool, when he was used he did reasonably well.
Hank Amos - as Paul, not in the movie enough.
Amin Joseph - as Pirate Leader, poor to be honest!
=== The Casts Performance ===
The performances of the stars of The Expendables was simply fantastic, with stars such as Jason Statham and Jet Li giving there best work ever. The Expendables has a very respectable cast and ators such as Sylvester Stallone do really well. He is pretty much the main character in the movie and all the stories in the film revolve around him. Stallone is a really well known actor throughout the world and he has starred in movies such as the Rocky franchise, Rambo and Judge Dread.
Jason Statham in my opinion is absolutely brilliant, he runs the show in this movie and acts out his skin. In previous Statham movies in my own opinion I believe Statham isn't a great actor in them, but this movie his acting skills shine and he does exceptional. Jason Statham has starred in big movies such as, Crank, Transporter and The Bank Job.
One of my favorite actors, Jet Li is also a great addition to this movie and his fighting skills look amazingly cool and are really well thought of. Jet Li in this movie also plays his role tremendously well and in my opinion without this guy, the movie would fail, as he brings his own unique skills to the movie. Jet Li has also starred in many films such as, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Forbidden Kingdom, Kiss of the Dragon and War (also with Jason Statham).
Dolph Lundgren doesn't have a massive role in the movie but when he is in it, he also is very good. Dolph was one of the actors I watched a lot when I was growing up, and I always wanted to be like him. He has a good fight scene with Jet Li in this movie, which I think is one of the best I have ever seen. Dolph Lundgren has been in many films such as, Universal Soldier, The Punisher and he has also starred in Rocky IV with co-star Sylvester Stallone.
Other stars such as Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Gary Daniels and Eric Roberts, they all do a fantastic job and are all well known people. Mickey Rourke has been in Iron Man 2 and The Wrestler. Steve Austin is an ex WWE superstar and has also had his fair share of movies like, Condemned and The Stranger. Gary Daniels has been around for years and is also one of my favorite actors, he played Bryan Fury in the new Tekken movie. Eric Roberts does great as the bad guy in The Expendables and has starred in films like, Dead Or Alive and popular TV series Heroes. All actors do a great job. Also there are two cameo appearances by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.
=== Director ===
Well the director of this movie is none other than Sylvester Stallone and as well as directing the movie he also stars in it, but he did that with many of his other popular and well known movies. Sylvester Stallone was born 6th of July 1946, New York City and has directed and starred in many films such as the Rocky franchise, Rambo and Staying Alive. Sylvester Stallone had rumored to have spent $82 million on making this film. Stallone has now established himself as a great director and he has also hinted at a sequel to The Expendables.
=== Other Bits ===
Film production began on March 3, 2009, with a huge budget of $82 million. Filming commenced 25 days later in Rio De Janeiro and some other locations in Brazil, including Niteroi, Guanabara Bay, Mangaratiba, Colônia Juliano Moreira and Parque Lage.
In my opinion The Expendables is a fantastic film, with lots of action and a great storyline, full of a remarkable cast and crew. The runtime for this movie is 103 minutes and is Rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language. So I wouldn't recommend for the younger viewers. But this movie was absolutely fantastic!
Review also on Ciao under username: MrBrightside1987
Thanks for reading my review :)
Stars - You name it, they are in it!
Run-Time - 103 minutes
Certificate - 15
Country - American
Genre - Action
I have been in a movie with Sylvester Stallone. Admittedly it was very small part and I didn't actually have any lines, a walk on extra for The Specialist, a movie that was being shot in and around our hotel in Miami Beach and so residents given 'access all areas' passes and so ideal extras. Whereas my movie dream died back in 1994 Stallones sadly continued (only just after this stinker), Copland his only post 1980s movie of note. To put it bluntly, Sly has been dreadful for nearly twenty years now, The Expendables, alas, more of the same blandness. You can see what he was trying to do with this as lead and director, the star packed haymaker to reignite his career after his recent retro re-launch flops of Rocky Balboa and Rambo failed to put him back on the A-List, but enough halogen flashbulb attention there to offer hope it would all come back soon. Although The Expendables would be Sly's first film to gross over $100million in the US since Rocky 5 it doesn't mean he is back.
Its post publicity was all about the extraordinary cast, its only real selling point if we are honest, this, very much in the dumb action genre that relies purely on the cast popularity with young male audiences. It was notably the first time that Sylvester Stallone has been on screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis (apart from that cheesy Planet Hollywood business) in a movie, be it only briefly, Willis on screen for I minute 12 seconds, Arnie just 37 seconds, of which the Governor of California didn't take a fee. If you're watching the film to see that trio's chemistry up on the big screen then forget it guys.
Sylvester Stallone ... Barney Ross
Jason Statham ... Lee Christmas
Jet Li ... Yin Yang
Dolph Lundgren ... Gunner Jensen
Eric Roberts ... James Munroe
Randy Couture ... Toll Road
Steve Austin ... Paine
David Zayas ... General Garza
Bruce Willis ... Mr Church
Giselle Itié ... Sandra
Charisma Carpenter ... Lacy
Gary Daniels ... The Brit
Terry Crews ... Hale Caesar
Mickey Rourke ... Tool
Hank Amos ... Paul
Arnold Schwarzenegger...Trent Mauser
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) heads a team of mercenaries, dirty deeds that don't come cheap, the film opening up like their weapons in ablaze of cordite as the guys take down some Somalia pirates, Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) setting himself out early on as the unstable one that nearly gets them all killed due to his coke habit.
The next job pays big, 'Tool' (Mickey Rourke) handing out the pay-packets, the team going up against rogue CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts), who is trying to destabilize a small Latin American island called Vilena so to overthrow the government and replace it with a military junta, headed by General Garza (David Zayas). Munroe, with his brutal sidekick Paine (Steve Austin), wants the General to police his illegal drug operation in return. The Expendables task is to stop that happening.
For this one Ross is taking his best men - knife specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), high kicking and chopping Yin Yang (Jet Li) and mini-gun wielding 'Toll Road' (Randy Couture), to name but three. But the job quickly goes astray, the team having to leave with their tail between their legs, Ross upset over having to abandon the Generals sexy freedom fighting daughter, Sandra Zayas (Giselle Itié), behind on the island to get her comeuppance from dad for being a traitor.
Still brooding over the beautiful Latin, Ross decides to return to rescue her, this one personal and the fee waved, his team mates reticent to go back unpaid but loyal to the last anyway. But they better hurry up as she is in prison and Munroe is torture happy...
Ok, it's not as bad as you have heard but no where near as good as it should be, if you consider the cast that at least offers the potential to have some fun amongst the explosions. The best way to describe this would be if you squash up all the action movies of the 80s and sprinkle them with all those period action clichés then you are in the right ballpark, very much Commando meets Rambo, a well made piece of nonsense that just about gets away with it, although not good enough to recommend to you guys. Sadly its one of those films you will rent anyway just to find out. It could and should have been a whole lot better, Stallone living his glory years vicariously here but having just enough clout in Hollywood to get this made and still no one brave enough to tell him not to. This is no Kelly's Hero's, or, indeed The Dirty Dozen, clearly the action buddy template to model this movie on not working.
And let's talk about that cast, just about everyone who is anyone in the action genre over the years, contemporary or kitsch, invited to take part by Sly. Jason Statham, of course starred in the rather enjoyable Death Race (2008), which was an extremely loose remake of Death Race 2000 (1975) which featured a young Sylvester Stallone in one of his first starring roles and so his ticket in. Wesley Snipes was also offered a role but wasn't allowed to leave the United States without the court's approval because of his tax evasion case, which he eventually received a long sentence for (which he should for most of his movies!). When it was announced that rapper 50 Cent was replacing Snipes the fans didn't like it on the message boards, Stallone deciding to go with former NFL player Terry Crews instead, ticking another box to grow the prospective audience, WWF wrestlers as 'muscle' covering the redneck base to help fill the American multiplexes. Presumably a movie algorithm was applied to the budget on the exact amount of star names required to make sure the film didn't lose money, why there are so many names in this.
Steven Seagal was asked to play a cameo but turned it down flat due to negative connections with producer Avi Lerner - and the fact there probably wasn't a stuntman fat enough to do his scenes. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Seagal's public enemy number one, also got the call from Sly, but he turned it down claiming that there was 'no substance in the character'. Sadly, this would have been Brittany Murphy's final film. However Stallone cut her scenes from the film before her death due to script rewrites making the scenes obsolete. Thankfully Brittany did not kill herself with an overdose after watching this.
The film itself is expectantly clunky and cheesy, like the dialogue, although not in that ironic way you expected, Stallone mumbling his way through every scene, the in-jokes obvious, the humor left to the always excellent Jason Statham, the distinct stench of testosterone overwhelming the plot, of what plot there is. The orchestral soundtrack is also rather heavy on the ears and the action sequences way too predictable. This is the first film that Sylvester Stallone has directed since Staying Alive (1983) that doesn't involve John Rambo or Rocky Balboa and it shows, still rusty on the emotive side and nothing of substance in the gaps between the explosions. You can see that naivety in the less than macho names of the main characters, Barney, Church, Christmas and Toll Road suggesting he named the characters from things he saw out of the window on the ride to the first script meeting? Some Action Figures they will make! Mum, can I have the Barney Ross action figure!
It was very rough and tumble set as you would expect, egos colliding like those tectonic plates under Japan, Sylvester Stallone actually breaking a small bone in his neck while filming a fight scene with Steve Austin, one amongst 14 injuries Sly needed treatment for during filming. That physicality does come through on screen but its all grunts and groans.
From its surprisingly low budget of just $80 million it has done $276 million back, a great return for a poor movie that failed at all the things it was trying to do. There is a sequel planned, of course, although Stallone has said there is no script yet, which shouldn't matter really as there isn't one here.
The Independent - "If you are a connoisseur of the Steven Seagal flavor of direct-to-DVD action film, seeing all these guys up on screen actually is a lot of fun. It doesn't make it a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's still a lot of fun".
The Little Rock Echo -"This is a movie in which Dolph Lundgren is expected to convincingly portray a junkie and have an American accent. Also, Jet Li plays a character called Yin Yang. Do with this information what you will.
The Times -"It's fun to see this aging cast together on screen, but the movie is junk. The one-liners aren't funny, the dialogue is tedious, and the action itself is prosaic and repetitive".
CNN - "Wow, I haven't seen this much over-the-hill action since Don Ameche and Hume Cronyn did laps in Cocoon".
The Daily Star -"We can understand the need to have a support group for elderly action heroes who want to relive the glory years. But did they have to release it as a film? Unnecessary"
The NY Times -"Stallone's dozens of remaining fans know exactly what to expect, and he gives it to them good and hard"
Imdb.com - 7.7 out of 10 (75,182 votes)
Rottentomatos.com - 41% approval rate by the critics (58% by users).
Metacritic.com - 45% approval rate (61% by users)
= = = = Special Features = = = =
*Before the Battle: The Making of The Expendables*
It's very macho with Sly listing his on-set injuries (grunt audio-commentary option)
Sly talks about his movie...
= = = = = = =
O.K., so there's CGI blood, an over-reliance on shaky cam, one-liners that are hit and miss, and a plot that is pretty much non existent. With the negatives ultimately being "expendable", though, Sly Stallone's ensemble action-war film serves its purpose as an incredibly entertaining, balls-to-the-wall testosterone spectacle that pays tribute to the peak of its genre in the '80s, and even manages to stand on its own as one of the best no-nonsense, unashamedly-politically-incorrect films to have come out of the past ten years.
Writing, directing and starring, Stallone does not even attempt to shy away from his desire to give his fanbase what they really want -- ACTION. Being one of the leading faces of Hollywood cinema throughout his long career, the main purpose of the guy's films has always been to entertain. Looking through the critical eye, it's an easy thing to pick out the faults in his mainstream entries, such as the underdeveloped storylines and cheesy dialogue; however, for the fans of action films, there is always a great deal to get excited about.
In a bid to always go with my gut instinct when writing film reviews, I'm gonna side with the action fan side of my personality here and say that the execution of Stallone's intentions is so great that it makes the negatives seem almost insignificant. Simply put, The Expendables is an AWESOME action movie.
Yes, Stallone and his assistant Corey Yuen know how to choreograph an action scene better than most, judging by the evidence here. Fuelled with plenty of hard-arsed characters partaking in bare-knuckle fist fights; knife-throwing kills; and automatic shootouts, which decimate what seems like every building and living thing in site, The Expendables fulfils what it promised in the pant-wetting Call To Arms Trailer that was uploaded to YouTube a month or so prior to the film's release.
All we need to know about the plot is that Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team of elite mercenaries -- Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Gunnar Jenson (Dolph Lundgren) -- are out to stop rogue CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts), General Wickham (Gary Daniels) and henchmen Paine (Steve Austin) from exporting drugs into America.
The Expendables is basically Rambo V (which is pretty much a certainty not to happen now) in that Stallone's character is at first reluctant to venture into a dangerous war zone, but then is motivated to do so by his recent contact, Sandra (Gisele Itié), being kidnapped and tortured by the bad guys. Somewhere in the middle of this is Ross's ex-partner and tattooist Tool (Mickey Rourke), who makes an emotional revelation about his experience in the Bosnian War, putting the whole hard-bastard mentality required to fit the mercenary role into perspective.
If you hadn't guessed already by the marketing campaign boasting an array of action veterans, The Expendables is very much a character-driven movie as well as an action spectacle. Stallone, with his trademark grunt and snarl, is at the centre of it all, but still manages to take a step back and share a majority of the screen time with his co-stars. Statham, for one, is pretty damn cool as the blade specialist, Christmas, (and I'm not really a huge fan of his); Li is the quiet, but seemingly-always-deadly martial artist who excites whenever he's called into action; Lundgren is a huge screen presence (if a horrible actor) as the unpredictable hot-head of the group; Crews shines in his destruction of half the Gulf of Mexico; Austin is absolutely badass as the square-headed henchman; while Roberts plays the slimy, manipulative bad guy so well that you can't help but admire him.
There's even the added bonus of Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger meeting face to face with Stallone in an incredibly intriguing, if very brief, satirical scene taking place in a church -- the first time EVER these three actors have appeared onscreen together. Noticing The Governator's Terminator-like stance and the once-John McClane's bald head becoming the main focus of the camera as they enter the scene to meet with Mr. Rambo is, admittedly, enough to make a grown man feel fourteen again.
The Expendables may be flawed, but it's an old-school, nostalgic appreciation of the violent, over the top cliché scenarios seen within some of the best action films of the '80s and '90s. Highlights include a Jet Li vs. Dolph Lundgren scrap; an awesome car chase that pays tribute to 1986's Cobra; and a Rambo-style, sneak-in-and-proceed-to-blow-everything-to-smithereens climax. The actors look like they're having a whale of a time, and who could blame them? The Expendables is an action fantasy come true; forget Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and the rest of the other pretty boys who've temporarily fulfilled the void for meat-headed actioners in the past few years -- the real men have taken back their cinema screen in explosive style.
(C) Andy Carrington, 2010.
When I was growing up, back in the eighties, action movies were all the rage. In recent years interest in action flicks has however waned. You still get movies with action, but they aren't strictly speaking pure action films (a lot of films with action these days would be classed as sci-fi, fantasy, horror, superhero and so on.) It's sad to see that action films aren't as popular these days, but such is Hollywood life. The movie industry is pretty fickle, flooding us with whatever is popular and then moving onto the next craze (just ask fans of Westerns.)
The decline of the action genre was bad news for stars like Sylvester Stallone, but from the director's chair he has managed to revive his acting career just when you thought he would be thinking of retirement. After reliving the glory days in the new Rambo and Rocky we find Stallone staring in this new project The Expendables. To garner some interest Stallone recruited the help of fellow action stars from the past and present. Seeing all these legends together is what attracted me to the film, but was it any good? Read on and find out.
In case you are wondering The Expendables are a group of mercenaries made up of Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Stratham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture.) The film kicks off with the crew showing their skills saving some hostages from a bunch of pirates. During this scene the unstable Gunner tries to kill a pirate after the conflict has been resolved. He has to be restrained and is subsequently booted from the team for being a loose canon.
After all this The Expendables get their next job which involves taking down Vilena Island's dictator and his partner who happens to be a rogue CIA agent. They get the job from someone using the alias Mr Church (played by Bruce Willis.) The same scene features Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rival mercenary leader. It was cool to see Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis on screen at the same time, but be warned that if you blink you will miss it. Schwarzenegger trades insults with Stallone for a couple of minutes and then leaves. I have to say that it disappointing seeing Schwarzenegger and Willis do virtually nothing in their cameos, although I guess Arnie at least has the excuse of being busy bankrupting the state of California.
From that point on The Expendables scout the island of Vilena and decide the job isn't worth it, but they then change their minds and decide to go kick ass when their contact on the island (who happens to be the dictator's daughter) gets kidnapped. Yes this film is pretty thin on story, but if you were expecting an epic tale from this you are watching the wrong movie. It's all just giving the cast an excuse to blow up things and shoot people. There are however a couple of subplots involving Gunner (who wants revenge on his former team mates) and Stratham's character who has a bit about his girlfriend leaving him and hooking up with an abusive partner.
Neither story was necessary in the grand scheme of things and the Lee Christmas relationship thing really felt like something forced in to pad out the running time or a weak attempt at character development. To be honest the characters were one dimensional as you would expect from an action movie. The only one who stood out acting wise was Mickey Rourke playing a former member of The Expendables. The emotion he showed when talking about a mission in Bosnia were he failed to save a girl was so good it felt out of place in a film were all the other characters were pretty bland.
Who cares about all that right? We are just interested in the action. Well the movie does deliver on the action front. I enjoyed the fights staring Stratham's character who has a thing for throwing knives. Terry Crews also stole the show during the finale thanks to the gun he uses. It tears up anyone he comes across and blows up guard towers which is all very cool. I however didn't like the hand to hand fights especially the ones which had Stallone taking on the main henchman (played by former Wrestler Steve Austin) and the battle between Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren. There were too many cuts which made it hard to see what was going on. Maybe this was intentional as these ageing stars can't perform fights like they did in their prime. I do however find that hard to believe in the case of Li who until recently has been pulling off spectacular martial art moves in other films.
My only other complaint with the film is the use of CGI in a couple of scenes. One of these had CGI blood when a bad guy got cut and another had CGI flames covering someone who was burning alive. The blood clearly looked fake and the burning scene flat out looked terrible. I'm not one of those people who hates computer generated effects, but in the examples I have given I think the film would have been better served using more traditional special effect techniques.
Overall I have to say that I enjoyed the film, but it wasn't anything special. It's a good rental or something you would watch on TV and like. I wouldn't however buy this for my DVD collection as I doubt I would watch it again and again. The Expendables did well in the box office so a sequel may be in the works staring even more action stars from the past. If they build on what they have here it should be good, but if they just give us more of the same I doubt the franchise will go on to become a trilogy.
Review originally posted on Ciao (December 2010)
golferinfr's Full Review: The Expendables (2010)
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.
Let's just say I'm very happy I waited until it came out on DVD. The plot was just a brief abbreviation of Rambo except this time Stallone has a bunch of good guys on his side. The major plot of this movie in Vilema, with a meeting set up for Sylvester Stallone who plays Barney, Bruce Willis who is Mr. Church, and last trouncing into the church for this 5 minute skit is Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays Trench. This meeting is the only time you see Arnold and Bruce and really could of been cut out of the movie, that's how boring it was.
Sandra who is the Generals daughter, gives Barney and Lee and view of the island and the Generals Mansion. The bad boys James Munroe who is the boss and a ex-CIA agent who has given the General millions of dollars to run his drug ring from the mansion and plant coca fields on the generals land. The first time they view this island they get caught and as they escape is one of the best explosions I've ever seen in a movie is when they blow up the dock. What the movie lacked in depths they made up for it in kung-fu, blood and guts. Lots of explosions for the pyromaniac in you. Even Mickey Rourke's role as Tool was about lifeless as to the tightness of his skin from all that Botox pumped into his head. Dolph Lungren's role as Gunner was the worst snitches part I've ever seen in a movie and how he got to Vilema only God knows.
The movie had some good points like the friendship between Barney and Lee and Ying always begging for more money. Even Steve Austin role as Paine deserved a two thumbs up being James Munroe's henchman. Lee's fight in the basketball court over protecting bruised ex-girlfriend Lacy was showing that Jason Staham still has the moves. The vocals for a fight movie was never there, the sentences seemed like effortless mumbo jumbo as if they were scared of telling Sylvester Stallone to say it needs this or that. To me the only true character who's part was played very good was Eric Robert's part of James Munroe.
Sorry Rocky !!! You did a flubber this time, your last 2 movies Rocky and Rambo were good and as the saying goes "two out of three ain't bad."
Giselle Itié (Sandra)
Randy Couture (Toll Road)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Trench)
Steve Austin (Paine)
Charisma Carpenter (Lacy)
Terry Crews ( Hale Caesar)
Gary Daniels (The Brit)
Jet Li (Ying)
Dolph Lundgren (Gunner)
Eric Roberts (James Munroe)
Mickey Rourke (Tool)
Bruce Willis (Mr. Church)
Sylvester Stallone ( Barney)
Jason Statham (Lee)
Bruce Willis ( Mr.Church)
David Zayas (General Garza)
Sylvester Stallone - Director
Overall a 2.5 just for the fighting and the explosions. The rest I'm afraid to say if Brutus knew how to dig holes in the yard I'd give him this DVD to bury it.
Thanks for reading..Wish I could of score it better.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
A group of elite mercenaries, led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), come back from a successful raid on a group vicious Somali pirates only to face the biggest mission of their careers. They are employed by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to take down a brutal South American dictatorship on the [fictional] island of Vilena. However, the group will encounter far more challenges than they had banked on. The dictatorship is backed by a fierce ex-CIA operative (Eric Roberts) and his highly trained enforcers (Gary Daniels and Steve Austin) and a key rebel fighting the dictatorship is none other than the dictator's (David Zayers) daughter. Meanwhile, the individual members of Ross's team face their own personal demons...
Touted and often described as an ensemble film, this picture is pretty much Sylvester Stallone gets to play alongside and against other action stars. Stallone give plenty of screen time to the rest of cast, where possible, but his character clearly glues everything together. As is often the case with Stallone, the character's position and development is a virtual allegory for the actor behind the scenes. Here he conceived, wrote, directed and invested in what must be the ultimate love letter to US action cinema, at least of the '80s and '90s era. So it is little surprising he makes a convincing leader. This, of course, is the latest and by far the most successful of Stallone's dream nostalgia projects, hitting a post-politically correct generation who are on their 20 year retro-cycle.
The film is a blatant no-brains action flick wearing its machismo allegiance proudly on its sleeve. It's delivered with a tongue-in-cheek style and wastes no time in delivering an unashamed boys-only fantasy story. The film makes little pretensions about balance. Matters only get sentimental twice and they are in the worst possible taste. First off we have Jason Statham in a territory marking alpha "love" sub-plot whereby his girlfriend cheats on him with a man who ends up physically abusing her. Secondly there is the ever-scene stealing Mickey Rourke giving us the war flashback talk. It's all serious cheese and clichés all the way with a joyous wink to the fan boys, as these slow scenes just bring everything down a notch for the next pyrotechnic laden, high octane action sequence. Seriously, most of the budget for this film must been literally blown on blowing stuff up.
When his is not blowing loads of stuff up, including the obligatory escape helicopter, Stallone is busily pleasing his fans by setting up dream action star match-ups. We get Dolph Lundgren, playing the maverick unhinged warrior he virtually trademarked in "Universal Soldier", going at it against Jet Li twice. Then we get Jet Li fighting Gary Daniels followed by Jason Statham and Li versus Daniels. Steve Austin fights Sylvester Stallone. Randy Couture then later matches wrestling skills with Steve Austin. Even when they are physically not throwing fists, Stallone achieved what once seemed impossible and actually shares a scene with his long-time '80s rival and business partner, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The whole scene is chaired by the third founding partner of the "Planet Hollywood" restaurant franchise and the other major action star of the '80s and early '90s, Bruce Willis. As one might expect, the whole scene is the biggest nudge in the ribs regarding their relationship in real life. Schwarzenegger plays a rival mercenary team leader who trades compliments and insults with Stallone. As if no one got the so-called "in" jokes in this far from subtle scene, Stallone's final remark regarding his rival is "He wants to be president".
However, there are other instances in the film which I really don't think are intended to be funny, but made me laugh anyway. Stallone reprimanding Lundgren for "using" has to be a stand-out moment. There isn't a member of "The Expendables" who isn't into their 40s and they all look He-Man dolls. The pharmacy in their studio must have been bigger than Boots! It would appear that old school drug usage denial is part of the nostalgic trip.
This sort of film could only do well now and you have to admire Stallone for his timing. However, few of the stars really anticipated how well it would actually do. For this reason Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Kurt Russell and Charlie Sheen turned down the opportunity, but it looks like they will get their chances again with sequel. The key to the film's success, just the key seems to be to anything that has a very strong and dedicated fan base, is its no-concessions approach. Stallone knew exactly the audience he was going for. The stereotypes in the film would shock John Wayne. Jet Li's character is called "Yin Yang" and Gary Daniels (a hugely under-rated British martial arts star) gets called "The Brit". The female characters are there as damsels in distress only. Don't expect any Judy Dench style Ms stamping their authority or even a high-kicking femme fatale. This is a movie made by boys for boys - big American boys who want to have one last blow-out party.
A few notes on the bad guys: Eric Roberts seems to be destined now to only play a Mr. Big-style bad guy, which is a shame as - regardless of what "South Park" says - I think quite a few people care about him and would like to see him play something a bit more challenging again. Even David Zayers has become something of a household name thanks to his great work on the hugely successful "Dexter" TV series. Here he plays the conflicted military dictator - a role he could play in his sleep. The film would have been vastly improved if these two actors could have played off against the macho good guys with devilish one-liners - think Alan Rickman and Michael Wincott - and with their own brand of irony rather just playing it straight.
I cannot bring myself to dislike "The Expendables" anymore than I can dislike films made from a more naïve era. It is tongue-in-cheek, although let's not kid ourselves into thinking it is a clever satire of "Starship Troopers" mould, and it is one of the most unpretentious action films I have seen in years. However, it is not without its technical weaknesses. Virtually every actor and supporting actor is a familiar face, turning the whole thing into a testosterone pantomime. I guess this is the point of an ensemble cast, but as we are limited by time there really is no hope of ever liking a particular character - you just root for your favourite action star.
The eighties seem to be making a comeback at the moment, its coming up to Christmas so the CD's are being released again and pop bands re-forming, however to get some sizeable icons such as Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger in the same movie is quite a task. A task that is going to be either extremely good or extremely bad in the way this is made, given the fact that there is going to be a whole load of male, macho, sweating hormones floating about somewhere with the bar being upped nearly every minute in competitiveness.
Stallone plays Barney Ross, the leader of a mercenary group of soldiers that are made up of a knifeman, a martial arts expert, a demolition expert and a professional sniper. After wrapping up one mission relating to the toppling of Somalian Pirates, the team are hired by the mysterious Mr Church, Bruce Willis, to assassinate a South American dictator. When Ross gets involved with a woman on the island and discovers the origins of the conflict on the island and why this has occurred the mission takes a change in direction, Ross has to decide what side he is on and what his team need to do about it to get the right result.
Stallone is the leader of the troop as well as the director of the film and to be honest seems to have changed more than a little since his last film. The man is in his early sixties, which is a well known fact, however the problem is that he has no grey hair, has a hairline considerably lower than what he did in Tango and Cash and has a remarkably stupid looking goatee beard that is the same colour as his hair! Add to the fact that the muscular physique of this main is just far too veiny in nature then that kind of sums up Stallone's part in the film entirely. Although Jason Statham who plays Lee Christmas, the English Knife specialist and Jet Li who plays Ying Yang, the martial arts specialist have quite sizeable parts, in some cases their own storyline, the film does have an excessive amount of characters to deal with throughout its 98 minute length and this is where the film fails as this really should have at least 30 minutes longer in length to really bring the best out and develop the story and plot.
The remaining members of the team are made up by weapons expert Hale Caesar, played by Terry Crews and sniper Gunner Jensen played by Dolph Lundgren who Stallone starred with in Rocky IV. Additionally to make the team have on emore than the A Team there are six members, UFC champion Randy Couture plays Tollhouse. I have to say that Terry Crews's rating seems to be getting higher and higher as he has appeared in a number of decent films since having a role in White Chicks, which I found funny.... anyway.... hmmm however back to the film in question.
I am not a merry man! The film is a little bit of a missed opportunity, the reason I say that is because the story has two main characters, Stallone and Statham, end of story. The rest of the cast seem to back them up and make them look good. When you have a cast of action heroes spanning the last three decades of cinema, the opportunity to get right out there and structure the film in such a way that the explosions gets bigger and badder then the main villain is encountered and dealt with by the band of soldier. Unfortunately this is something that was lightly touched upon throughout the film, I went into the cinema with is perception in my head as this was how the film was originally presented with the trailer - a big massive action film! The plot is quite confusing as well as intricate and seems extra dark in places that causes the confusion as you can't really see what is happening and add to the fact that the camerawork is unsteady due to shaky cam methods employed then you do get to see an action film that is attempting to re-write itself accordingly for a 21st Century audience.
I personally think that one of the main reason is the length of the film, at 98 minutes you aren't going to get much in with regards to character development or fleshing out the situations. This is a shame really as the film could have been so much better than the end product. There are glimpses of what could have been, the scenes throughout which entail the obligatory high body count show bodies being blown into many pieces or heads being blown off with the use of CGI to get the exploding effect, okay this is something new. But frankly seeing this once is enough as the gore is quite graphic in nature and could have easily been dropped from the script.
As I said earlier the film has a number of sub-plots, putting aside the ones involving Stallone and Statham the plot involving Jensen, played by Dolph Lundgren, and his drug use has remarkably similar traits to that of Universal Soldier with the character slowly becoming uncontrollable in nature. Whether this is homage or a cheeky reference I am not sure. Throughout the film everyone has something to do, it's just a case that it is the one thing, whether it's a fight scene that is shown in close up or a self praising scene featuring Bruce Willis, Stallone and Governor Schwarzenegger meeting in a church to discuss something that isn't actually that clear due to the deep throated mumbling of Stallone and Arnie's broad accent then the whole film is again not what I as a fan of the action movie genre expected to watch. It was good to see Bruce Willis in the film, however his part seems to be the best as he manages to project a vast amount of mystery about his character, where as Arnie has about six lines then walks out.
The bad guys in the story seem to be made up from various Wrestling organisations and to be honest I had heard of Steve Austin, but the one who was in this film was not Bionic in any form! Add in Eric Roberts then the band is complete, oh sorry I forgot to mention Mickey Rourke as well. Rourke appears as one of the ex-members of the team. He also delivers the running joke, a Tattooist attempting to complete Stallone's tattoo's before the mission in question begins. Yes I know that didn't make that much sense, unsure whether this is a mid-life crisis thing or not.
Overall as you can probably tell that I was not impressed with this film, okay disappointed is a better word. The film for me could be translated to a handing over of the baton to the next generation of action heroes, namely the Wrestlers or was an attempt to re-ignite some of the nostalgic film experiences that have graced the screen. Well I have a scoop, the world has change and now even in a post 9/11 world this type of film that can be said is a little bit of The A Team crossed with The Dirty Dozen, a little bit of The Magnificent Seven added in. This doesn't actually satisfy my needs and I think that's because I've simply grown up. This is a movie where all the characters are tending to hustle for attention. I have to admit that the dialogue sounded like it was downloaded from a B movie on the Internet, the story isn't what you would call modern and definitely not a classic plot at all, as I would have liked to have seen the story set in an urban landscape like an American city rather than what was on-screen as I just didn't feel that the Expendables were under any threat at all at any point and therefore that considerably lessened the impact as well as the suspense levels which I would have thought would have been higher.
This is a shame as the film could quite easily, given its cast, been a top notch film. To me the sequences are good, but never reaching sequences in similar films like anything from the Die Hard series or even The Terminator films, it's a lot more "quieter" in this film. To be honest I was expecting to put my brain into neutral and not take into account the plot holes such as a sea plane landing a distance from the island that any militia on the island could see the vehicle clearly, I just wasn't expecting a boys own adventure that for me misfired. If you want to see a film on how it should be done with a good cast then a film called The Sea Wolves that had the same kind of set up with the cast starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven, this will justifiably satisfy the need for a good action film as will watching The Wild Geese which does the mercenary story a lot better with good old British style and class.
My boyfriend and I have recently started making regular trips to the cinema, so that we get out of the house more often.
A few weeks ago our movie of choice was The Expendables...
If you have seen posters for this movie around, you will know that there is an all star cast. Sylvester Syallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarznegger, Bruce Willis and many others. This is what drew us into going to see the movie, having not seen any adverts or heard any reviews. However, I was quite disappointed that both Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarznegger were only in the movie for a maximum of five minutes!!
The storyline is a little difficult for me to explain. As far as I could tell, it was never explained exactly who the Expendables were and how they managed to get their work. They are a group of men who seem to do dirty work for others at a high price. When we first meet them, they are trying to retrieve some hostages from a group of pirates on a ship.
The main job of the movie, which I found very confusing, sees Stallone and Statham flying to a small island to research into the new dictator and assasinate him. They realise this may be difficult as he has an army of men protecting him and who seem to stand by his beliefs.
I suppose the main question is: will they pull it off?
If you want to find out, then you will have to watch it!
In response to my last statement, I'm not sure I would recommend anyone watch this movie.
When my boyfriend and I left the cinema, we couldn't quite come to a conclusion on it. On the one hand, the acting was so terrible we were shocked! Even Jason Statham, who I usually really enjoy watching, made me cringe with his acting. Also, all of the cheesy one liners really put me off the characters. The fact that Bruce Willis and Arnold Shcwarznegger were on all of the advertisements but only in the movie for a few minutes really disappointed me and made me feel robbed! I was looking forward to seeing all of these stars together in the movie and they were hardly there! And when they were there, again, they just had cheesy one liners!
Despite this, I did quite enjoy the film. There were some really good action scenes nearer to the end. Also, the storyline was quite clever.
I would recommend if: You can see past the terrible acting, can see past the cheesy one liners and do not have high expectations of the actors.
I would not recommend if: You idolise any of the actors, are annoyed by cheesy one liners and cannot stand terrible acting!
Here is a film that knows all too well who its target audience is: men, who lived and grew up in the 80s watching some terrible B-action films, and teenage boys - and perhaps throw in some women who still believe that Sylvester Stallone, wrapped around his overgrown biceps with thick veins popping through them, is still attractive. It knows so well in fact, that the way this paper-thin story is told is very straightforward. In short, it wastes absolutely no time with excessive dialogue, and within five minutes into the film, there are already pints and pints of fake blood being spilled, half a torso being blown off, and bullets flying into the bad guys' hopeless bodies, whilst they all manage to miraculously avoid "The Expendables."
"The Expendables" consists of old fighters whose single united dream seems to be having one last shot at being action heroes. Stallone is 64, Dolph Lundgren is 52, Randy Couture is 47, Jet Li is 47, Terry Crews is 42, and the youngest one in the group Jason Statham, is 38. But hey, who cares when the neck-less warriors are absolutely beating the hell out of quite literally hundreds of soldiers? You thought "The A-Team" was tough? Watch "The Expendables" and Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quinton Jackson will be nothing compared to these guys. Neeson comes up with carefully thought out, intricate plans. You know what? Screw them, Stallone needs no plan. His philosophy is: get in there, shoot'em up, blow'em up and save the girl, if there is one.
Despite the fact that this film defies all sense of reason that make up this universe, it provides tremendous amount of fun. Every plot development is another excuse for an action scene, and yes, it's even more predictable than some of the disappointing romantic-comedies of recent years. "The Expendables" are recruited to take out an evil dictator who is in charge of some nasty business making life hell for everyone living on his fictional island called Vilena. But during a reconnaissance mission the team finds out that there is an even more dangerous guy who is in charge of everything in Vilena, even the dictator himself, called James Monroe (Eric Roberts), whose sneaky tactics are about to award him lots of money. It's up to "The Expendables" to stop this greedy bad guy and take down his private army of South American soldiers armed with heavy weaponry. As Tool (Mickey Rourke), an ex-member of "The Expendables," explains to the rest of the team, the mission would be like going to "hell and back." Meat Loaf sung in 1993 that he would "do anything for love," and that he would "run right into hell and back." Stallone and his buddies would do anything for blood and money.
If you want characterisation, you can forget about it. Don't watch this film unless your head is empty and is ready to be bombarded with endless noise. Because all you'll ever know about these mercenaries is the fact that they're all indestructible. No matter how hard you hit them, no matter how many people come after them with machine guns, they will survive and they will walk away unharmed. It may take some fun out of the game, since no tension can be built when you know for certain that these men will survive no matter what, but who needs build-up when there is so much bone-crunching, head-twisting, knives-throwing, blood-spattering action right there in your face? The concise running time of 90 minutes goes rushing past, with hectic camerawork, even speedier pace, and hardly any unnecessary words, Stallone, who also worked as director on this film, knows how to set up a male-crowd-pleasing scenario and follow through on it, delivering some slick, very watchable action sequences. Despite their age, the much beloved action stars still have the chops, and as they punch, kick, throw, wrestle, slam their way through the fools who deserve it, there appears to be nothing more refreshing, than seemingly washed-up stars making one last bash at getting close to their glory days.
But just consider the talent involved here. Stallone used to be Rocky and Rambo. Jet Li was fighting off Nathan Jones, who happens to be twice his size, in "Fearless" only four years ago. Lundgren, Couture, Crews and Statham are all expert fighters who have won medals. But perhaps because there are so many characters involved, brief individual moments make up for the big action scenes, not exactly looking at everyone's unique fighting styles. And because sometimes the direction is so hazy and rushed, quite often everything looks the same, and several scenes are no better than some sequences from mediocre action films. One-on-one fights are usually well choreographed, but it's when more people are in front of the camera that Stallone seems to struggle to completely grip the audience. The one car-chase scene that exists is nothing spectacular and despite the introduction of a massive gun that supposedly fires 200 powerful rounds in a single minute, the final gunfight is lengthy and repetitive. There are explosions yes, but it lacks originality, which comes as a disappointment given the impressive cast.
There are so many plot-holes in this film that it appears the director is somewhat proud of them all. Just how can a gigantic cargo-plane land unnoticed on an island with maximum security? Lundgren's character has the most absurd personality that leaves the film on a sour note. Speaking of odd, strangely unlikable characters, the cameo appearances from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger add absolutely nothing special. Sure they have that legendary presence, and it's the governor's first appearance on a film in six years, but his scene shared with Willis and Stallone is shockingly embarrassing. The scene consists of these three "cool" hard lads having a laugh in their self-absorbed, badly written, lame jokes.
Every single close-up is the unavoidable proof showing us just how old everyone else. There is one particularly unpleasant scene where Stallone removes his shirt to reveal his torso and as if that were not enough, he also reveals an even more unpleasant tattoo. But a lot of this can be forgiven by watching the scene where Stallone quite literally gets his "ass kicked" (his own words). It's a solid action film, something that will please a crowd on a Friday night, but the only bit of thinking that the film makes the audience do is an unproductive one: because at the end, we get the feeling that the film should and could have been a lot more fulfilling.
I had kind of high hopes for this film because I'd spoken to a few people who had watched it and everything I kept hearing back was positive. I should really have taken this in context given the people who were telling me these things.
First of all I find it ridiculous that a film with the names 'Bruce Willis' and 'arnold schwarzenegger' plastered all over the posters and any other promotional material you care to mention actually contains the two aging action heroes for about a combined time of around two minutes at most. This being a dull and almost pointless scene where the three of them make silly little jokes about who they actually are in real life. Also, Mickey Rourke is barely in it either, clearly also along for the ride just for his name. It's amusing that Schwarzenegger and Rourke both get offered a piece of the actual action and both decline with no real reason for doing so. Dolph Lundgren plods his way through his scenes in a kind of Jaws from James Bond kind of way but he's actually better than some of the others so I won't rip into him too much.
So that's out of the way. So the film doesn't actually star all of these people it claims to at all, it basically stars Stallone and Statham with a load of others playing bit parts. The acting by several is so bad that it's hard to take it seriously and I understand that it's not supposed to be good but it's just far worse than it should have been even taking that into account. No real problems with Stallone or Statham but Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Randy Courture, Steve Austin, and Giselle Itie are so embarissingly terrible at delivering even the simpliest of lines that it becomes farcical. I completely understand that this is supposed to be a throwback to those terrible action films of the eighties where nobody could act but for me it worked there, it doesn't work here and it's almost difficult to work out exactly why. Maybe they should have brought Stallone and Stathams line delivery down a few notches to fall in line with the others?
'One Liners' are synominus with action films of this type and they can be as rubbish as you like because you are supposed to groan and go 'I cannot believe he just said that' but they cannot be so bad that the viewer just feels genuinely embarassed.
'Who sent you?'
'How many men you got?'
'Just your mother'
Just stop please! But seriously there is no real plot to speak of (A team of mercenaries head to South America to overthrow a dictator) and yet you won't know what on earth is going on half the time because none of the dialogued scenes are ever going to grab you because of the lack of any chemistry whatsoever between any of the characters. Way too much ego in the room, too many cooks etc
When the action really gets going it's a constant wave after wave of obscene violence, broken limbs, decapitation, huge explosions and very very big guns. You find yourself a little shocked by the first body being blown to pieces, but as the body count piles up you quickly get bored.
'The Expendables' is clearly self aware of how nonsensical and pointless it is and of how bad the screenplay and the acting is and yet it's not enough to save it because it just isn't a good film. I am more than happy to go along with the most ridiculous of films so long as they don't take themselves seriously but for me 'The Expendables' gives the viewer very little to grab hold of. You need to care about what happens to the characters and you need to feel that they care about each other. A film, even one like this, needs to be paced properly, it cannot just simply be a series of set up pieces that just seemed to have been thrown together in an attempt to make a film.
If you a fan of extreme violence and you do not care about any other aspect of storytelling or indeed filmaking then this may well be the film for you. Anybody else at all will be thinking about switching it off by the time the fifieth Columbian soldier loses his head. I think it's one big mess of a film containing a bunch of aging egomaniacs. You're best bet is sitting down and watching 'Predator' or 'Rambo' or 'Terminator' or 'Rocky' even, Hell I would go as far as to say you're better off watching 'Cobra'!!
There is something you have to understand before entertaining thoughts of watching this film: no matter what the plot would have you believe, it is entirely about a bunch of 80s and 90s action movie stars acting like a bunch of kids at a party. Jelly and ice cream is replaced with guns and explosives, sleeping lions is substituted for high body count, and the children's entertainer/clown looks like Mickey Rourke. Oh, hang on, that IS Mickey Rourke!
Yes, it has finally happened. There has been talk of 'wouldn't it be great if they all starred in a film together?' for quite a while now, and old fingers in pies himself Sylvester 'Sly' Stallone has gathered a motley crew of tired and haggard looking action stars to completely murder a weak plot and blow a lot of things up. In all honesty, no one going into this with half an ounce of forewarning is going to expect anything more than an hour and a half of pure, unadulterated action. The stars are coming out of the woodwork (as is some of the acting), and the match ups are pretty well designed as well. Sly has his usual tenacity behind the camera lessened somewhat, as a whole host of stars with more money than sense give us 'The Expendables.'
Exactly who or what the Expendables are is never really properly explained. The introduction merely gives us a bunch of guys on bikes with leather jackets going into what seems like a garage crossed with a tattoo parlour. Then it cuts to some action as our aforementioned motley crew go through a hostage rescuing mission, before regrouping afterwards, minus poor old Dolph 'Naughty Boy' Lundgren, who gets his knuckles rapped by the evident leader of the group (Stallone) and his right hand man (Jason Statham).
I suppose this serves as a bit of an intro/explanation to tell us who these guys are: basically, guns for hire, a team of super soldiers who get paid a lot of money to 'sort things out'. Indeed, it's not long before the real plot comes along in the form of one of the best scenes in the film, involving Sly, Bruce Willis and Arnie. The last two of this trio sadly only have this very small cameo, about 3 minutes, I believe, but it's memorable. Sly and Bruce co-own Planet Hollywood, and Bruce appeared without charge here. Arnie, as a Governor, probably did this gratis as well, or at least while he was on hols or in the evening, basically outside his governing times of work.
This short scene establishes a mission that is needed in some drug fuelled country south of the USA where a General is causing problems and needs to be stopped. The short scenes is brilliant, with the three action greats bouncing off each other very well with their dialogue, even managing to get various cinematographic and political digs in at each other, with the parting mentioning of Arnie wanting to be President being the most memorable of the film, I think. Well, that and Jet Li's 'I would have win!' Bless.
From there on in, there are attempts to introduce a bit of character development, but I felt that these were out of context with the film and rather lessened the impact. Charisma Carpenter plays the love interest for Statham, but this little sub plot just serves as a vehicle for the action man to fight a basketball team. Mickey Rourke's involvement and his monologue of regretting decisions he has made seems to make an attempt to be poignant, but is just as out of place as the basketball fight.
Luckily, there are few moments like this, and the majority of the film features things being blown up and people fighting each other. I'm aware I have name dropped up to this point, without really mentioning who is in the film and which side they're on. Basically, Sly and Statham have most of the screen glory, the former being the leader of the group, and the latter being the number 2, with great close combat fighting skills - and I mean really great. The fight scenes with him in are awesome.
Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and UFC legend Randy Couture make up the rest of the team, with Mickey Rourke a hanger on who just stays in his garage/tattoo parlour for the film's duration. Willis and Arnie don't feature past that one scene I have already mentioned. Then we have the villains, with Eric Roberts the most natural choice for an action film villain full of stars. He is joined by WWE's 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, and soon as I had established who was on which side, there was no real doubt that Couture and Stone Cold would have a grapple. Gary Daniels is also added to the mix as a villain, but that's it really, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was a bit one sided in favour of the heroes. Yes, true. That is, until you add a whole army of mercenary soldiers operating under the dictator General who in turn is being controlled by the money supplied by Roberts's ex CIA turned greedy gun and drug running con. This balances it out very well, and proves to be perfect when it comes to the final battle scene, which lasts for well over 20 minutes!
Is the acting any good? Of course not! Sly and Statham hog the majority of the limelight, and it's a bit of a competition to see who is harder to understand: Sly's mumbling or Statham's random mix of English with something resembling an American accent. Lundgren made me laugh, as he lived up to his reputation as being one of the worst action actors, and I was a bit gutted that Jet Li didn't really get much of a look in, aside from that funny line, which is repeated a number of times.
But the film is blatantly not about the acting, and is all focused on the action, and in this respect it didn't disappoint. At times, it tried a bit too much to force somewhat of a moral plotline into the proceedings, and I felt they should have just gone with the flow instead of focusing on this as much as they did. It didn't necessarily dampen my enjoyment of the overall presentation, but it was a bit annoying.
I do recommend this, especially if you were a fan of the films these guys used to do. I'm looking forward to seeing what Sly and co come up with for the projected sequel to the film, but I know loads of people have conjured up lists of who could and should be included in the next film. Names such as Wesley Snipes, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal have been floating around, and it would be great to see them in the next film. For the moment, we'll have to settle for this band of thugs. It's a rubbish plot, with rubbish acting, but a great cast and great action scenes. Very glad I watched it. Recommended.