Movie Review: The Expendables

23 Aug, 2010

Back in 2008 while promoting “Live Free or Die Hard” a rather rude interviewer asked Bruce Willis if he felt

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it was a bit silly that actors such as himself and 80s-action icons were back doing action movies now that they were ‘advancing in age’. Willis, who is known for being one of the smoothest and coolest actors around, just grinned at the guy and in a very dismissive fashion stated : “if these newer guys could do it right we wouldn’t have to come back and show ‘em how its really done”.  Like everything in life, if you want something done right, you get the right people for the job. And when it comes to actions movies, there are few people better suited for that job that Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone brings action back to its glorious 80s roots in The Expendables. This movie is the definition of ‘action-packed’. The explosions are massive and frequent, the guns are over-sized and loud, and the body count is too numerous to tally. Continuing along the action-movie check-list, there are plenty of great, cheesy lines, delivered perfectly with tongue planted firmly in check. Some occasional miss the mark giving a real ‘groan’ moment but it really is a situation where the good far out weighs the bad.

The collection of actors in this movie reads like a who’s who in the action movie catalog. Starting with Stallone and Jason Statham as the lead duo of the Expendable group. The back and forth between Stallone’s Barney Ross character and Statham’s Lee Christmas really powers the movie whenever things aren’t blowing up.  Classic action stars like Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren are paired with relatively new additions to the action genre such as Terry Crews, wrestler-turned actor (Steve Austin), and a MMA legend turn-actor (Randy Couture) making the movie

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more than adequately set for the action side of things.

Aside from the obivous action requirment, the cast all do a good jobs in their respective roles. In particular

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Li is used well for a bit of comedic relief when he isn’t moving at near mach speed in some crazy action sequence. Micky Rouke is thrown in not so much for his action cv but rather simply because the guy can act. He’s the perfect fit as the the character ‘Tool’, who’s basically the Bosley-type character that brokers the various contracts out to The Expendables. Eric Roberts does a good job in the bad-guy role of James Munroe,  making the character so cocky and dislikeable that you find yourself fighting the urge to get up and punch the screen whenever his face is displayed. Cameo’s by action legends Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are just icing on the cake.

The fighting scenes deserve special mention. While there is plenty of top-notch explosions and cool looking vechicals and guns, the fighting in this movie is what puts it over the top. Ever fight scene is perfectly done, playing to the strength of the actors involved. You want to see Stallone in a knock-down drag-em out fight? Done. Want to see Statham masterfully take on a group of punks and beat the tar out of them will having the same cool expression on his face the whole time? Done. Jet Li kicking someone 80 times in 1 second and flying around like a monkey? Dolph Lundgren as a powerhouse brute? Couture doing MMA moves? Austin brawling? Done. Fans of the violence in some of the more hardcore 80s action movies well appreicate these fights, as some of them are just plain graphic.

The Expendables is 100% as packaged: Great retro action movie entertainment. Action-packed, funny, exciting, and most importantly, fun.  Simply put, this is how actions movies are meant to be.

8 out of 10

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