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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Mickey Rourke
Jason Statham
Forest Whitaker
Jet Li
Dolph Lundgren
Eric Roberts
Steve Austin
Sylvester Stallone.
Directors
Sylvester Stallone.
Screenwriters
Sylvester Stallone.
Running Time
108 minutes

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The Expendables
The A-ged Team


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Plot
On a tiny island in the Gulf Of Mexico, a team of grizzled mercenaries, led by Barney Ross (Stallone), take on a rogue CIA agent-turned-ruthless drug lord (Roberts) and his puppet general’s army — with, naturally, a vengeance.


Review
The Expendables
Browse more images »
In 2030, the indomitable Sly Stallone, along with the surviving members of the eight-strong action ensemble which make up his titular team, will unite with the common goal of wiping out, once and for all, the dreaded Meatloaf Night at their nursing home. Until then, there’s The Expendables, the action movie equivalent of a Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ‘super group’, or one of those Doctor Who episodes where all the old Doctors turn up in the same show. (With Eric Roberts, late of the unloved Doctor Who movie, as the villain, the illusion is almost complete.)

If The Expendables had been made a decade ago — and if Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme had answered Stallone’s casting call, as the likes of Dolph Lundgren and Arnold Schwarzenegger did — the film could have been a poignant, life-imitates-art examination of a group of once-great action heroes, finding themselves washed up, out of step with the touchy-feely times — like Space Cowboys, but for meatheads. After all, we live in a world in which the movies’ biggest action heroes are played by pantywaists like Robert Downey Jr. and Christian Bale, proper ac-tors whose biggest muscles are inside their heads. If nothing else, such a film would have given much-needed employment to its dole-drawing stars.

As it turns out, things haven’t quite worked out that way: although the title of Arnie’s 1993 flop, Last Action Hero, seemed unintentionally prescient, the past decade has been good to the ’80s action stars. The careers of The Expendables, you might say, have proved anything but. Stallone has gone the distance, largely thanks to Rocky Balboa, a critical and commercial hit; Rourke parlayed an Oscar-nominated comeback (The Wrestler) into a meaty villain role in a hit franchise (Iron Man 2); Steven Seagal sent himself up — at least, we think he was in on the ‘joke’ — in an Orange ad; even Jean-Claude Van Damme, the once-proud “Muscles From Brussels” pulled off an exercise in postmodern existentialism in the film that bore his initials, and — Gott im Himmel! — Ah-nuld was elected, and then re-elected, Governor of Kah-lifornia, and is a constitutional amendment away from a tilt at the White House.They are, however, “getting too old for this shit”. Clive James once described Arnie as looking like “a condom filled with walnuts” — now it’s the other way round. Perhaps that’s why Stallone (64) has recruited young upstarts like Jason Statham (38) and Jet Li (47) to accompany fellow fossils-with-muscles Lundgren (52), Bruce Willis (55), Rourke (57) and Arnie (63) to take down the bad guys (and possibly the insurance premiums). If only Sly had spent less time on the phone to his mates, and more on the script.

Instead it seems that, having assembled his dream cast — and thrown in wrestler ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Ultimate Fighting Champion Randy Couture for the ‘kids’ — Stallone clearly felt that such fuddy-duddy film staples as story, characterisation and dialogue that makes sense were, well, expendable. Sure, there’s some direct-to-video-level plotting (see above), and an attempt at creating motivation for Stallone and his fellow cigar-chompers to care — in a nutshell, “The general’s daughter is a hottie” — but that’s really as far as it goes. As the film lurches from scene to scene, one becomes increasingly convinced that not only is everyone making it up as they go along (director Stallone shares a screenwriting credit, so it’s entirely plausible), but that Sly could only convince his cast to jump on board if he agreed to very specific, and often very strange, demands: ‘I want a scene where I kick Jet Li’s ass.’ ‘I want to blow up a dock from the open-air gun turret of a giant seaplane.’ ‘I want to meet Charisma Carpenter, can you fix us up?’ (And apparently, in the case of the much-ballyhooed on-screen team-up between Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis, ‘I want a scene with all the verbal and visual fireworks of a Planet Hollywood annual general meeting circa 1993.’)

That said, The Expendables does what it says on the tin: it delivers a super-size portion of bone-cracking, bullet-spraying, muscle-flexing, head-exploding action, thankfully with the kind of tongue-in-cheek ironic distance which was fatally absent from Stallone’s last directorial outing, the ill-advised, ill-fated Rambo. Although the set-pieces are hardly on a par with the man-fires-tank-falling-out-of-plane antics of the all-new A-Team, the fight scenes prove that the almost-all-old ‘E’-Team can still cut it when push comes literally to shove.

If nothing else, it gives the audience a chance to answer the perennial question, who would win a no-holds-barred fight between Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li?


Verdict
More The Wild Geese than The Wild Bunch, The Expendables is not a wasted opportunity, but more one not fully exploited. For action fans raised on Commando and Cobra, the ensemble cast and ’80s-style violence will be pure wish-fulfilment — but even they could have wished for something better.


Reviewed by Genevieve Harrison


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Expendables
Empire Star Rating

Stars in wrong film

The Expendables has an amazing cast of actors including Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham. But, these action greats have been put in the wrong film. The movie is not original and contains "girly" fight scenes, espically for marcial artist, Jet Li. An Expendables 2 has been announced and I thought: "Why?!?!". If it is any better, I will watch Home Alone 4 again, believe me, that is a severe punishment! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheBohemianBean at 19:13, 01 November 2012 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320253/]The Expendablesn "preparation" to part 2 I watched this again: still very cool. Obviously way over the top but that is what makes this so fun, with a show-stealing Stallone. Looking forward to see part 2. /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 22:15, 09 October 2012 | Report This Post


The Expendables

It's undoubtly guilty pleasure to the eighties action fans, but The Expendables falters too much on script writing and one-liner dialogues to make it rank as an action classic. Still, you won't be bored... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 21:53, 08 July 2012 | Report This Post


it is what it is

big 80s stars doing an action film love it!! cant wait for the second one now more of the same please sly and im on board ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 01:11, 19 April 2012 | Report This Post


Not too happy about this ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 11:27, 16 October 2011 | Report This Post


Review Fail

How can Empire get it SO wrong! They write up a bad review then give it 3 stars! Which by their admission is a 'Good' film!?? Review fail! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silverscreenhero at 15:09, 20 March 2011 | Report This Post


Enjoyable

Brilliant action sequences i must admit but the one thing that bugged me was that this film was made out to be full of action stars....Yes Willis, Rourke, and Swarzenegger are in it but for an overall screeing time of what.....10minutes? Still...was amazing to see Stallone,Willis and Swarzenegger in the same room lol. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AntGC at 10:17, 12 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Dolph surprises everyone!!!

L: Spaldron L: Qwerty Norris L: Deviation L: sanchia Overall, it had the action but for some reason it was just, for want of a better word, dull. side from the greatness of the Eric Roberts, this is a perfect description of the final third of the film. greed.... ut i] what about the Big Fuckin BOOM Stick?!! Best. Gun. Ever. (except Predator) hat is the thing it had all the elements which should make a good action film but the presentation didn't w... More

Posted by sanchia at 10:49, 05 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Expendables

seems like a plain old drag to me ... More

Posted by raymondtt at 04:33, 05 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Dolph surprises everyone!!!

L: Qwerty Norris L: Deviation L: sanchia Overall, it had the action but for some reason it was just, for want of a better word, dull. side from the greatness of the Eric Roberts, this is a perfect description of the final third of the film. greed.... ut i] what about the Big Fuckin BOOM Stick?!! Best. Gun. Ever. (except Predator) ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 04:30, 05 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Dolph surprises everyone!!!

L: Deviation L: sanchia Overall, it had the action but for some reason it was just, for want of a better word, dull. side from the greatness of the Eric Roberts, this is a perfect description of the final third of the film. greed.... ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 06:44, 03 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Dolph surprises everyone!!!

L: sanchia Overall, it had the action but for some reason it was just, for want of a better word, dull. side from the greatness of the Eric Roberts, this is a perfect description of the final third of the film. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 20:41, 02 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Dolph surprises everyone!!!

Finally saw this last night. Sadly it was rather disappointing with the promise of a return to 80's style action failing to be achieved. The plot was sufficiently shallow but the presentation was lacking with too many characters rather pointlessly scattered across the screen. Stallone was rather drab in the film giving a telegraphed performance and surprisingly came across as the person who really didn't want to be there. Someone really needs to tell him that a beret does not make him look ... More

Posted by sanchia at 19:40, 02 February 2011 | Report This Post


Dolph surprises everyone!!!

I've read only a few reviews for this film but what everyone forgets to mention is that this is a USA movie REALLY imitating HONG KONG action films!!!! And, on that level it is so cool that that Jackie Chan -- I mean Jet Li is on board for the ride. Also with all of the drug cartel violence in Juarez and Mexico... this movie was really timely as was Rambo in an accidental way about Myanmar (Burma)... What a fun movie and I really felt that this was a shining moment for Dolph Lundgren who reall... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JoseJones at 09:37, 11 January 2011 | Report This Post


Crash Bang Stuff

Okay don't think there will be a plot for The Expendables or any emotional moments. Just sit back, relax and let the crash bang stuff do it's part. The cast is simply one word: awesome. It's left with a sequel hoping to be made. Fight scenes are bloody, violent and at times OTT. Worth checking out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 14:22, 29 December 2010 | Report This Post


I watched this film this morning. I'm not really into the whole action, guns, blowing peoples heads off thing but my Dad loves it so I bought it for him this Christmas. He thought it was great, all he could've hoped for from his hero Sylvester Stalone. I on the other hand didn't thinkit was that bad but wouldv'e hope from something better coming from such a cast. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mollymoosh at 15:01, 26 December 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

Yeah but he has nothing on Arnie or Bruce's movies. I like Van Damme's prison films though, like In Hell and Death Warrant. ... More

Posted by vad3r at 14:26, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

Dolphs films are awesome especially compard to the turds Seagal and Van Damme keep getting paid for. ... More

Posted by Scott_ at 14:24, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

Dolph does rock it's just a shame his films are shite. ... More

Posted by vad3r at 14:17, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

He always has the awesome Rocky IV is proof of tha....I personally prefer Stallone to Arnie but then I prefer Dolph to either of them. Dolph rocks. L: sroey Oh and Terry Crews was criminally underused! es he was! There wasn't enough Jet Li either. ... More

Posted by Scott_ at 14:14, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

L: Scott_ He's not really... e doesn't have the awesome factor of Arnie or Dolph. ... More

Posted by vad3r at 14:10, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

L: Scott_ L: sroey Watched this a second time and liked it a lot more after the initial hype had worn off and reality had set in. Single best thing about this film? Dolph Lundgren/Gunner (or is it Gunnar?) He actually comes across as a credible flawed character. He has some awesome lines "Dont talk to me cockroach!" & "bring it Happy Feet!". He is superb in this. lm would have been better without Stallone in it if you ask meoundhouse kick for you for that one!... More

Posted by sroey at 14:07, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

He's not really... ... More

Posted by Scott_ at 14:01, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

Stallone is a bit boring though. ... More

Posted by vad3r at 13:56, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

L: sroey Watched this a second time and liked it a lot more after the initial hype had worn off and reality had set in. Single best thing about this film? Dolph Lundgren/Gunner (or is it Gunnar?) He actually comes across as a credible flawed character. He has some awesome lines "Dont talk to me cockroach!" & "bring it Happy Feet!". He is superb in this. lm would have been better without Stallone in it if you ask meoundhouse kick for you for that one! Not from me...from ... More

Posted by Scott_ at 13:51, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


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