THE EXPENDABLES (2010)
Armed to the teeth and prepared to stop at nothing, The Expendables ready themselves to free the island of Vilena and for Ross to save his dying soul. But before they can put a bullet through the eyes of General Garza and James Monroe (Eric Roberts), they’ll have to get through ex-teammate Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) who has betrayed them, the silent Paine (Steve Austin) and several hundred soldiers in a suicide run to end all suicide runs!
Outside the ensemble cast, the action sequences appear as their own character, something to root for as the carnage unleashes on the screen. THE EXPENDABLES features four key sequences that basically hit on everything an action fan could ask for. In the opening sequence, our mercenary protagonists deal with Somali pirates aboard a freighter. Next up is an extended chase sequence as Stallone and Jason Statham attempt to escape the island of Vilena. A third sequence begins with a car chase and ends with a Toho-esque monster battle as Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren go one-on-one in a fight choreographed by Hong Kong martial arts veteran Cory Yuen. The final sequence is the against-all-odds assault on Vilena which is part THE DIRTY DOZEN and part COMMANDO both in execution and explosive flair.
When things aren’t exploding, we get to enjoy the ensemble cast quipping back and forth as they chew up a script that serves to move characters from one place to the next. In the protagonist’s corner, Stallone and Statham share the majority of the screen time, with Jet Li, and Mickey Rourke coming in close behind. All four find exactly what their characters need and spit it out fine fashion. In the antagonist’s corner, Eric Roberts and David Zayas (Angel Batista on “Dexter”) shine like they were born to be baddies commanding an army of cannon fodder. The plot may be a dozen times old, and the soliloquy about soldiers losing their soul when they stop fighting “for” something and just fight for fighting sake are about as subtle as a brick to the face, but be certain this is not parody of a bygone era but an honest attempt to add at least one more film to the unstoppable musclemen action genre.
Since first hearing about THE EXPENDABLES in late 2008, the film has been set up to bring action fans a non-stop tour de force romp of explosions, fist fights and familiar faces that is part nostalgia and part modern adrenaline. Stallone does deliver on those promises and even a bit more, presenting a thoroughly entertaining 100 minutes that should quickly be added to anyone’s top list of go-to flicks for unadulterated and unapologetic violence. That is until the sequel arrives, and yes, a sequel is already being talked about.