The hype for this film started up well over a year ago and since then we’ve watched many an impressive name get attached to the project. Some in a larger capacity than others, but what remained in the backs of people’s minds were the stars that turned it down like Seagal, Van Damme and Russell. With such a large ensemble it had to be pretty hard to accommodate to all of these characters and actors needs. Watching the film you see how some actors get segmented with only Stallone and Statham pretty much doing most of the work throughout the film.
If a sequel pops up in the future it needs to amp up the parts and the size of the story. I don’t mean give it bigger bangs, but a much larger and more complex narrative for The Expendables is sorely lacking in depth but, as well as a bigger tale to tell and with the added new fad of making your Hollywood film more complex there is also, I’m sure, meaty room for the Chow Yun Fat’s, Gary Busey’s, Jackie Chan’s and Chuck Norris’ of the world.
So, we open at the end of an assignment where the six man strong team (Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture) stop a hostage situation going very sour but, with a loose cannon on the team (Lundgren) things end up hilariously sticky for the bad guys. First laugh out loud moment is the first kill in the film and highlights a great moment for Lundgren’s character (called Gunner wouldn’t you know it).
After the mission is complete; it’s back home for a bit of rest and character development. It’s in this segment where the main job these guys take on is introduced as well as the main supporting cameos come and go. The first of which is Mickey Rourke who has a few enjoyable scenes in the film. His first scene involves him doing the fastest and cleanest tattoo work ever committed to film (seriously! Pay attention to what he has left to do and how long it takes him!) He surfaces again later to help guide Sly’s conscience. The other important cameo appearances are from Bruce Willis (who hires the team) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who plays a former friend and now business rival to Stallone’s team).
The scene doesn’t have much plot to it, it is mainly an excuse to have these three legends on screen together and have Sly and Arnie spar verbally with each other and to be fair some of the quipping at each other’s expense is absolutely hilarious – so much so that you pray for a re-team in a sequel! The scene does linger, and could well become a cult classic scene, but it is ultimately fun and only serves to give Stallone’s team a job to do.
That job involves going off to a poor, tree ridden, hot and sweaty foreign location where the military are not nice to anyone and the dictator in charge is even meaner. Their target in mind then expands to a former CIA agent gone rogue (played by Eric Roberts) who is there with a team of tough guys (WWE’s Steve Austin and one time star Gary Daniels). The mission is then simple: take them down! And take them down they do, but not before doing a bit of recon and having the bad guys come at them via a former team member.
It is in the action where The Expendables does itself a lot of justice. It is edited fairly quickly but there are some shots of pain inducing hits and smack downs that really do hammer home. We are also treated to some nice face offs between some big stars. I won’t mention too heavily who gets to fight who, but let’s just say it’s like the A-List beating on the C-List a lot of the time. The less well known guys do their best to keep up and for the largest part actually pretty much win most of their fights with the good guys. A lot of these fights are broken up by other good guys coming to the aid of their mate (which in my mind is cheating! But if it’s a case of life and death, what you gonna do!)
Anyway, expect cheesy dialogue, except some actually pretty funny dialogue, some dumb over the top explosions, some impressive gun hardware, lots of men beating each other up and it all wrapped up in a star ridden package.