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The Expendables

2010 film directed by Sylvester Stallone

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Who Edits These Action Films, Anyway?

  • Nov 14, 2010
There was a time when you could rely on a bad action film to at least supply you with action. "The Expendables," which is said to be an homage to the guy films of the 1980s and 1990s, doesn't give you action so much as a blur of images chopped together so badly, you can barely revel in the violence they're meant to depict. What's the point in creating scene after scene of shootings and stabbings and explosions when the camera doesn't linger long enough on the aftermath? Why take the time for stunt training when every punch, kick, and jab is at the mercy of lightning-quick cuts, each leading to all manner of odd angles that don't really reveal the brutal maneuvering? Did director/co-writer Sylvester Stallone think the screenplay was ready to be shot? Even if it was ready, did Stallone actually believe the finished film was the best it could possibly be?

"The Expendables" is loud, violent, and frenetic, qualities I might have gotten into had the stunts been edited in such a way that I could actually watch them. I wasn't seeing action choreography so much as a jumble of brutality and bloodshed. It seemed mangled, twisted, and deformed, like a fighters using his bare hands to punch solid brick walls. It's not a question of meaning or theme or symbolism; I didn't go into this movie expecting anything of the sort. What I did expect was to have fun, to be entertained by senseless yet well-photographed violent acts. Isn't that what action films are supposed to do?

But wait, I haven't even gotten to the story yet. That's because there really isn't one to speak of. At least, not one that could be considered important or even comprehensible. So far, I've established that there's no good action to gawk at, nor is there a plot that can reasonably be followed. So what do I have left? The dialogue? Sadly, no; at times, it's so awkward that it seems to have been borrowed from another screenplay altogether. What am I supposed to make of a moment early in the film when the title characters square off with a band of Somalian pirates, only for Jason Statham's cell phone to start buzzing? Not only is this painfully unfunny, it doesn't match the tone the scene had been setting up. The last thing this movie needs is a sense of humor. Give us all the blood and bullets and stabbings you want, but for the love of God, don't try to get yourself off the hook by telling a joke.

The plot, as it were, centers on a group of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Stallone). The other members of his team are given irredeemably dumb names, such as Lee Christmas (Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Toll Road (Randy Couture). They all have their areas of expertise. After the situation off the coast of Aden very nearly goes awry, it's decided that Gunnar - who just happens to be a sniper - needs to be kicked out, for it seems he's too emotionally unstable to continue being an Expendable. He leaves, dejected, determined to show Barney that his decision was the wrong one to make.

In due time, Barney and his team are recruited by the secretive Mr. Church (a cameo by Bruce Willis) to enter a fictional South American country and overthrow a ruthless dictator. During this recruitment scene, we're treated to a cameo appearance by Arnold Schwarzenegger, although it seems kind of strange, what with him being the Governor of California and all. This, coupled with his character's long-standing rivalry with Barney, allows for the film's one genuinely funny line of dialogue: As he exits the scene, Barney turns to Mr. Church and says, "He wants to be president."

Back to the plot. In this fake South American country, called Vilena, Barney is driven to do right by their contact, a young woman named Sandra (Gisele Itié), although it's for reasons I don't think I should reveal. Barney and his team also learn that the targeted dictator, General Garza (David Zayas), is actually under the thumb of an ex-CIA agent named James Munroe (Eric Roberts), one of those wickedly evil caricatures that always has to say something witty before, say, shooting someone. Any connection to James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States? What about his 1823 introduction of the Monroe Doctrine, which stated that Americans would no longer meddle in the affairs of foreign countries, specifically in Europe? Never mind.

At Munroe's side are Wickham (Gary Daniels) - who's a toff one, he is - and Paine (Steve Austin), a gigantic brute of a henchman. They serve no real purpose other than doing all the physical things Munroe is unwilling to do.

Rounding out the cast is Mickey Rourke as Barney's mission coordinator, Tool, a pipe-smoking tattoo artist. He represents the film's sole engaging character, and he supplies us with one scene of such incredible emotion, dialogue, and depth, I'm tempted to suggest that it wasn't written by Stallone. How could it have been when the rest of the film was relentlessly brutal? I suspect "The Expendables" will please fans of manly-man action, although they would have to be willing to get past the horrendous editing, which doesn't do much to reveal the glorious bloodshed. Perhaps Stallone's real goal was to reunite with Dolph Lundgren and give Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts an excuse to once again be in the same film (unlike "The Pope of Greenwich Village," however, they share absolutely no screen time). I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing. Then again, I wouldn't have skimped on the screenplay, either.

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November 15, 2010
Great review! I had fun this movie and I definitely had a kick with Li taking on Lundgren. Did you notice that Rourke's hair is the same style he sported in Iron Man 2?
November 15, 2010
I noticed that too, but someone told me that, that's Rourke's real hair so I don't think I brought it up.
More The Expendables reviews
review by . August 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Glowing TRIBUTE To ACTION Heroes And Action Movies!!
Remember the good ol’ 80’s and the 90’s when action movies that channeled unreasonable amounts of male testosterone ran rampant in the Multiplexes? Well, if you’re a fan of those movies, you will definitely DIG writer/director Sylvester Stallone’s “THE EXPENDABLES”. It is a film that boasts of a cast made of several action stars and pays homage to the action heroes and movies that gave us the entertainment that seemed all but forgotten in this age of remakes, …
review by . September 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****    "The Expendables" is, simply put, a missed opportunity. I really do dig what Sylvester Stallone, operating from both ends of the camera as co-writer/director and star, is trying to do by bringing together a few of the action genre's biggest stars from now-and-then and putting them all in one movie; but his reach can't even be said to exceed his grasp, because there honestly isn't enough ambition in this picture for me to even admire it in such regards. While …
review by . August 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
For a while I've gotten tired of the "new" guard of action movies.  Usually too stylized with little guys running around.  Too much bullet time and taking themselves so seriously.  Stallone knew what worked in the 80s of headbanging, gun barrel melting fun and he transplants that here perfectly.  The fact that these guys have a name like "Expendable" somehow meaning that they could be thrown away is a crime to waste such gusto and cool.      …
review by . November 15, 2010
This movie is exactly what I wanted it to be. A bunch of out dated eighties stars killing brown and black people. The worst thing that could have happened to this movie is if it became a social commentary. That is probably the only bullet that gets dodged in this one.      Sly Stallone co-wrote, directs, and stars in a movie about mercenaries for hire. Their newest mission is to stop a South American dictator with a connection to drugs and the CIA, holy god even the headline …
review by . September 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Stop me if you’ve  heard this joke. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all walked into a bar, and they decided to make a movie about it. The bloody, testosterone-fueled macho child of a film is the punchline. To test and see if you would like this film, examine this piece of dialogue, directly quoted from the film. Steve Austin-”How …
Quick Tip by . August 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
My son saw it and said it was real good. Looking forward to finding some time to get to this. Haven't seen a really good action flick like this since Inglorius Basterds.
Quick Tip by . August 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Packed with some of the best action stars, The Expendables runs on explosions, fight scenes and the pure thrill of action. If you want a good time with a wonderful cast, action and humor, then this one is for you.
Quick Tip by . August 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Rip roaring action adventure in the old 80's sense. Keeps going, rarely lets up and takes everyones names.
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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  • The Expendables is a 2010 American ensemble action film written by David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone, and directed by Stallone. The film follows a group of elite mercenaries, charged with a mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator. The film is an homage to the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and early 1990s, and stars an array of action veterans from those decades, including Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (the latter two in cameo roles), as well as more recent stars such as Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Steve Austin.
  • They might be expendable, but they sure are durable:The Expendablesis crammed with well-traveled action heroes, called to a summit meeting here to capture some of that good old ultraviolent '80s-movie feel. Star-director Sylvester Stallone rides herd as the leader of this mercenary band, which includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Stallone's oldRocky Vnemesis Dolph Lundgren. Mickey Rourke, looking like a car wreck on Highway 61, plays the tattoo artist who communicates the gang's assignments to Stallone; throw in Terry Crews and Ultimate Fighting champ Randy Couture, and you've got a badass crew indeed. The specifics here involve a Latin American island where US interests have mucked up the local politics beyond repair--but when Sly's eye is caught by the feisty ...
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    Movies, Action Movies, Action, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, David Zayas, Gary Daniels, Steve Austin, Amin Joseph, Terry Crews, Senyo Amoaku


    Director: Sylvester Stallone
    Genre: Action, Adventure
    Release Date: August 13th, 2010
    MPAA Rating: R
    Runtime: 103 mins
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