Review: ‘The Expendables’

Thursday, August 12 by

The Expendables
R, 103m., 2010
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Giselle Itie, Charisma Carpenter, David Zayas with Terry Crews, Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Screenplay by David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone

There was this large plastic bin that I had growing up filled with action figures and their variou weapon accessories. From Duke Nuk’em to The Terminator, the original 90s Batman series, metal figure G.I Joes, Aliens, X-Men, Biker Mice from Mars, Ghostbusters, Toxic Crusaders and others that I have now forgot. They traveled with me wherever I moved during those years. They were my friends, enemies, and characters to create.

More after the jump…

Much like Andy in the Toy Story series, I didn’t want to keep them in the box like other kids in the neighborhood. They were action toys and they were meant to fight, team up, travel around the world in my room’s shag carpet, blow up Lego castles, use my brother’s model airplanes to crash fortresses, and go mano e mano. They never had time for girls or dolls, they had a mission and they stuck to it. At the end of the day, my Mom of course told me to pick up the battle of plastic that laid before her, while I was fighting most of the time to have five more minutes to do just one more rescue or bomb diffusion. But at the end of the day all those plastic warriors would go back into the bind, waiting for their next mission.

Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables is pretty much those toys coming back out of the box for another day’s deadly mission. Abided that they are played now by the real deal of aging 80s action stars and those that can still act or at least give a good line reading, getting some juicy monologues in between the action.
   
With thousands of pounds in sweat, blood, muscle, bullets, and explosives, Stallone leads the wolf pack of mercenaries called ‘The Expendables’ as Barney Ross. Following him are his wingman Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, lightning quick Jet Li as Yin Yang, psycho redneck Randy Couture as Toll Road, big machine Terry Crews as Hail Caesar, strung out Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen, and wise old biker friend Mickey Rourke as Tool.  They are usually funded by a guy named Mr. Church (Bruce Willis, owning the entire movie in his one scene) and a mysteriously lumpy old politician, we Californians know all too well.

When the gang isn’t blowing up half of South America or any other third world country from the grip of rogue CIA agents (Eric Roberts and Steve Austin) and cartoon military dictators (David Zayas from TV’s Dexter), they hang out  at a biker bar next to Tool’s place where they shoot the shit, drink beer, and compare each other’s knives. It’s the ultimate man caves of caves, where no one else but this cast of aging action characters seem to be hanging around.

Stallone delivers the movie with such breeze. There are, of course, wall-to-wall action sequences, but through all of its rocky rubble and bloodshed, it’s just another Saturday morning cartoon.

The movie only dapples at the crumbling and harsh aging world these men of war find themselves in. Stallone as we can see here is no Sam Peckenpah or Robert Aldrich in dealing action goods with a real sense of tragic undercurrent, though he does very wisely use the best dramatic actor in the bunch, Rourke, to give a few classic monologues of regret and the violent past him and his team led. Rourke can make a lot of tough guys cry if he wants to.

But then again, no real tough guy really wants to hear about their tragically violent self-worth when coming to see The Expendables. They just want action, wisecracks, and surprise cameos galore.

The action for the most part is delivered especially when the younger dudes Statham, Li, and Crews are on screen, because they aren’t quite so lumpy and old like the rest of the cast. Stallone’s scenes look especially thrown together by quick cuts and close-ups.

The Expendables
, like my childhood action figures at the end of the day were all picked up, cleaned off and sent back into their bind for another day’s play, eventually forgotten and thrown away, but wait… that’s another summer movie.

Grade: B-