Sylvester Stallone stars, directs and writes (alongside Dave Callaham) in The Expendables, and he brings along a brilliant ensemble cast of classic action heroes, wrestlers and actors. Padding out a fairly simple story with some explosive set pieces this is just a mostly brainless action flick that serves as homage to the action films that most of those involved in the film were in, wanted to be in, and loved.
Stallone shares above title credit with Jason Statham and Jet Li, but Stallone jam-packed the cast with countless recognisable faces, and it makes for an incredibly fun (and loud) action film – Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Charisma Carpenter, David Zayas, and Randy Couture.
Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team, The Expendables, are a for hire mercenary group, that takes the money and does the job, and they’re not worried about the body count, the gore, or the heavy artillery that will all be required for a mission.
They’re recruited by Church (Willis) to go to a small island nation in the Gulf of Mexico to remove a dictator, General Garza (Zayas) and an ex-Cia operative, Munroe (Roberts), who have taken over the drug trade from the CIA in that country. And they want it back.
At first, they are unsure about whether to take the job, but when Ross wrestles with the beliefs of a beautiful local woman, Sandra (Giselle Itie), who is also the daughter of their target, he takes the team in to get the job done – and it’s going to be very bloody, and very loud.
All the actors get a moment or two to shine, there are references to their films, and there’s a fun sense of camaraderie and humour running throughout the film. They know they’re not changing the world, they’re just making an action film for people who love action movies.
And honestly, it’s just so much fun to see so many iconic actors sharing the screen together and to be invited along for the trip. Stallone keeps the story moving, and doesn’t hog the camera just to himself, everyone gets their shot.
The downside is that, wow, you can see that Stallone has had some work done, but that doesn’t change the fact that he and his casting choices seem to have been made for this movie. I was delighted the first time I saw it, and was even more so to learn that there was a sequel greenlit almost before the film debuted.
It’s a hard R film with lots of language, violence and gore, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Okay, may be a bit of a stronger story instead of familiar tropes thrown together, but I think that is kind of the point as well, I mean a lot of classic 80s action films were silly, basic, and so much damned fun.