banner image

:: The Expendables

Okay, let's be brutally honest here – ‘The Expendables’ is a lot better than I expected it to be, but unfortunately all of director/writer Sylvestor Stallone’s early good work is undone by an ending that is best described as rushed. This rushed ending makes you forget about the quality writing from earlier and has you leaving the cinema feeling disappointed – disappointed because you know deep down that with a little reworking this could have been a brilliant action film.

The Expendables are a group of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone). He is backed up by Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren). They face their biggest challenge to date when they are hired by Church (Bruce Willis) to free an Island nation from the evil clutches of dictator General Gaza (David Zayas), rogue ex-CIA operative James Monroe (Eric Roberts) and their dirty right-hand man, the aptly named Paine (Steve Austin). For Ross the mission turns personal when he falls for Sandra (Giselle Itie) and she is taken captive.

For the most part ‘The Expendables’ works. There are some truly memorable action scenes – think Statham and Stallone flying in on a wharf-full-of-bad-guys and ending with an explosion that will be further burnt on my retinas. And despite the story flowing well and some good piece of scripts it is the weaknesses of the film that has stuck with me. As I mentioned early the final battle on the island feels rushed (and far too easy for The Expendables), while the ending revolving around Lundren’s Gunnar Jensen left a bad taste in my mouth. Likewise the lack of characterisation made it hard to connect with most of the lead characters. I say most because the scenes of Christmas and Lacey (Charisma Carpenter) genuinely leave you hoping his character makes it. There is a lame attempt to give Yin Yang some character, but I’m sorry but knowing that he suffers from ‘Short Man Syndrome’ simply isn’t enough to make me care if he lives or dies.

Perhaps the most surprising part about ‘The Expendables’ is that the acting actually does hold up – surprising because this is a cast made of Action Heroes with a few wrestlers thrown in for good measure. The big winner in the acting stakes is in fact Jason Statham who continues to grow in the action genre, while the biggest losers seem to be Arnie and Willis. I understand it was just supposed to be a cameo, but some smarter writing could have made this a really great scene. Mickey Rourke also seemed to be dangerously under-used.

To sum up I would have to say that for the large part ‘The Expendables’ is an enjoyable ‘leave-your-brain-at-the-door’ action film, but you just can’t shake the feeling that with some tweaking it could have been even better. Surprisingly better than expected ‘The Expendables’ will be a quick fix for any action junkies out there.