Now for the review:
The Expendables is going to be a special case where I review the plot first (unless you’re reading this on leetNEET, then you’ll see more “special cases” in my old reviews). In this film, plot comes second in terms of priority. What does come first? Mind. Blowing. Action. So, naturally, the plot is just going to be an excuse to showoff some kickass action scenes. I will say, however, that it was a rather big surprise to me that the main female lead in this movie wasn’t a love interest for Sylvester Stallone’s character. Rather, she served the role of a sort of offering of salvation for Sly’s soul. I’m sure a lot of people would miss that aspect if they weren’t paying much attention, which I can’t blame them. They came into this movie to see Schwarzenegger talk trash to Stallone and everyone else kill nameless mooks.
You know how I said Inception had an “all-star cast”? Well, screw that. Expendables probably had the best cast for the next few years. Another rather large surprise for me was that everyone (with the sole exception of Eric Roberts) turned out excellent performances, rather than just hamming it up. Mind you, it was a bit exaggerated at times, making it look like they had a lot of fun with this movie. Two actors I want to single out are Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke. Dolph’s character probably had the most interesting character arc in this movie. I can’t go into detail about what it was due to it being a spoiler, but please take my word for it. I really wanted to see more scenes with him. As for Mickey Rourke, there was one scene where his character told an extremely emotional story that grabbed the attention of everyone in the theater. You could feel the gripping atmosphere as he spoke. I couldn’t turn away and was so enthralled in his story. It was beyond exceptional.
The action for this film was big, loud, and stupid. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying every minute of it. However, I probably enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. I’ll be combining the action with my overall analysis of the movie, since it tied into what made or broke it. The Expendables was an ensemble action movie that was meant to be a throwback and a tribute to the great action movies of the 80’s and 90’s. Did it succeed in that aspect? Well, honestly, it was a mixed bag. Yes, the action was pretty good and the acting was probably better than those old films. The problem lies in the execution, however. The action scenes were indeed well choreographed. There was no doubt in that. The scenes, however, were filmed by someone with spastic hands. Shaky cam plagued this movie and it left me with a headache by the time the movie was over. It also did not help that there were so many edits to them. It might just be my personal preference in action films to just leave the camera by the side as a couple of guys kick ass, but you decide for yourselves.
The most damning and disappointing problem, though, was that the film’s herd of action stars was largely underutilized. I was willing to forgive the simple plot this had. I was willing to forgive the shaky cam. I couldn’t forgive this. One of the biggest drawing points of The Expendables was that it had some of the greatest action film actors of the past and today kicking ass together. Aside from Stallone, Statham and possibly Jet Li; the cast had minimal contribution to the film. As a big fan of cheesy 80’s action movies, I expected each individual actor to get their own little character piece; a small subplot for each that showed them off. But we didn’t get that. Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke’s scenes did show that potential in the movie, but they sadly remained only as potential and went underplayed.
For this tribute to 80’s action films, I give a:
2.5 out of 5
Despite my complaints, The Expendables was still a silly and fun action movie. The problem was just that it was very disappointing after hearing so much hype about it. It could've been a contender for a classic, but it failed to live up to expectations. But I’d really love to see a sequel. I’m sure it’d be a lot better. I recommend giving it a viewing at least once in your life.
I recommend this movie for those who love action films, especially old-school types. And those who want to see Arnold on the big-screen for the first time in over a decade.
The Expendables was made by Nu Image and Millennium Films; and distributed by Lionsgate.