You have to give Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables one thing – it delivers exactly what it promises to. There are explosions (lots of explosions), male bonding, numerous examples of macho posturing and one-upmanship, vicious, bone-crushing violence and a hot damsel-in-distress who needs to be rescued by the film’s star, who continues to harbor a savior-complex.
Barney Ross (Stallone) is the leader of a group of mercenaries who’ll take on any dirty job as long as the price is right. He’s approached by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to take out the ruthless Third World dictator of the island nation Vilena. The power behind the throne is James Munroe (Eric Roberts), a former CIA agent who’s turned the country into his own private drug-running empire.
Barney rounds up his crew to get down to business, but they all have issues to contend with. Knife expert Lee (Jason Statham) is mending a broken heart, Ying (Jet Li) feels underappreciated, Toll Road (Randy Couture) is dealing with an inferiority complex, while Hale (Terry Crews), well he just hasn’t fired his weapon in a very long time. They also must contend with a former member of the group, Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) who really knows how to hold a grudge.
Reminiscent of the Lee Marvin feature The Professionals, the film delivers some impressive action sequences in between scenes in which the actors flirt with parody. A sequence where Barney and Lee take out a pier of soldiers is impressive as is a violent car chase and the film’s fortress-wrecking conclusion. What’s disturbing about the movie is that the violence increases, the sound rises and the pace of the editing becomes more frenetic as the film progresses. Though action fans will love this, the ear-shattering action scenes wind up having a numbing effect on the viewer as Stallone, who also directs, believes that nothing succeeds like excess, much to the movie’s detriment.
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