Twitter Plot Summary: The Expendables are a fighting unit who will do the jobs you hate – a bit like Mr Muscle.
Five Point Summary:
1. Brief cameo time.
2. Eric Roberts in a suit = super evil.
3. Who’d have thought Statham and Stallone would have chemistry?
4. Let’s break out the big guns, why not.
5. Man on fire, people dying and so on.
In recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of daft action films, part of which came from Sylvester Stallone and his 2008 Rambo sequel which was frankly ludicrous in its excessive number of deaths and wanton violence. Step up The Expendables, once again from the twisted action brain of Sylvester Stallone, whereby a team of trained killers do dirty jobs worldwide and get paid handsomely for their efforts.
The story is one that action movie fans will be familiar with, most of it coming directly from the Commando script playbook. There’s a commanding general on a small island who is set up as a target for The Expendables, a group of commandos who take only the dirtiest and least desirable of jobs. The general isn’t the real target though. That honour lies with Eric Roberts and his henchman Steve Austin, who are bankrolling the general. Roberts is no Vernon Wells, but in almost every respect it’s the same film as Commando but with 50% less fun and a team of commandos instead of the one man army that was John Matrix.
What marks the most surprising aspect of The Expendables is that Statham and Stallone have a surprising amount of screen chemistry as brothers in arms, creating a pairing that would justify a film series all by itself. The fact there is a plethora of other action stars to hand is just icing on the cake. It’s a shame for Stallone that his face looks like it’s melting and his thin goatee beard looks like it’s been painted on, and his fellow action stars of yore are not looking that great either, but that is half the point – most of these guys are past their best but they’re still capable of killing other men with big guns.
This first entry in the series features a huge number of action stars from past and present, the story hearkening back to classic action films from the 80s and beyond. It’s as cheesy as it gets without ever fully crossing over the line into knowing self-mocking territory. Big things were made regarding the (incredibly brief) Planet Hollywood cameos of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, which at the time were big coups for Stallone – possibly the three biggest action stars from the 80s united if only for the briefest of moments. It’s this abundance of star names that is both The Expendables franchise’s unique selling point yet also its downfall. There are that many stars that they don’t get enough screen time and little effort is made to draw them in any significant detail with the exception of Barney Ross and Lee Christmas.
The story may not be completely up to scratch – but then in the action movie genre, what story is? – however the action sequences are sufficient to see you through. There may not be enough of them dotted throughout the 103 minutes of running time, but when the bullets do kick up a storm of dust the violence is graphic and does just enough to satisfy fans of the genre. It may not be the best, but it’s a return to the good old days of two dimensional action movie heroics that have been sadly neglected since the early 90s.