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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

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


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


RE: the return on the 80s action movie

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. This film would have been better without Stallone in it if you ask me. ... More

Posted by sroey at 13:21, 14 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN......

The Expendables (AKA "Fuck it! Lets Blow Shit Up!") is loud, brainless, and like Piranha, massively entertaining. It knows exactly what it is and makes no excuses for it, gleefully delivering on the action front. I loved it! 4 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 18:18, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN......

I finally saw the Expendables the other night and I have to say it was exactly as I expected, a good throwback to the action films of yesteryear. One thing I didn't like was the constant close ups, I wasn't in the biggest screen at Cineworld and a lot of the time it became a bit of a blur but I know this will be fine when I watch it on BD. I really enjoyed it but thought that the Expendables would have been a bit more, you know expendable and bite the dust? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by D-ToX at 12:34, 07 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN......

A load of old twat. Could have been better if you could see what was going on in the action scenes, cut too fast. ... More

Posted by kargon at 14:21, 03 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN......

I knew The Expendables was going to be disappointing, but that was ridiculous . . . although the action was unreal, just not unreal enough to make up for the shit bits in between and they were really shit ... More

Posted by musht at 00:51, 31 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: It's no Picasso?

L: the anomaly L: Dr Lenera The Expendables does pretty much what it says on the tin. You know it's going to be a throwback to the 80s action movie and for the most part it doesn't disappoint. Testosterone to the max as tough guys slaughter tons of extras and blow lots of shit up while throwing amusing banter around as they do it. When I say tough guys, I mean probably the greatest cast in action movie history, and Sylvestre Stallone deserves great credit for getting so many acti... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 11:24, 29 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: It's no Picasso?

L: Dr Lenera The Expendables does pretty much what it says on the tin. You know it's going to be a throwback to the 80s action movie and for the most part it doesn't disappoint. Testosterone to the max as tough guys slaughter tons of extras and blow lots of shit up while throwing amusing banter around as they do it. When I say tough guys, I mean probably the greatest cast in action movie history, and Sylvestre Stallone deserves great credit for getting so many action stars together and pu... More

Posted by the anomaly at 10:24, 29 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: It's no Picasso?

Good review,i'd agree with the most of it. Only criticism:using the term "what it says on the tin" ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 19:20, 26 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: It's no Picasso?

L: pete_traynor L: Piles No images allowed in these threads? Damn! i1014.photobucket.com/albums/af270/Weertangel/double-fa cepalm.jpg/quote] Just try img] bookending the link. That usually works for me sp; Reviews, Movie News and Future Films don't allow pictures. Has something to do with the fact that the content of the threads shows up on the main page... ... More

Posted by grucl at 09:33, 26 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: It's no Picasso?

The Expendables,well the plot is not that original, but who care's,as the cast was fantastic,so Stallone can give himself a big pat on the back for getting so many iconic action heroes/actors onto the screen together and actually making it work. Though the much hyped cameo of two particular people was short lived,IE two minutes it was hilarious,great fun and well scripted.This is a high octane, unbelievably explosive, funny, blood thirsty, proper balls out action movie,that would not have... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by evil bill at 21:27, 25 August 2010 | Report This Post


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