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THE EXPENDABLES
Author: JoAnne Hyde
August 12, 2010
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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: THE EXPENDABLES is a hard-hitting action/thriller about a group of mercenaries hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator.
DIRECTED BY: Sylvester Stallone
WRITTEN BY: Sylvester Stallone
CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, David Zayas, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, Charisma Carpenter, Eric Roberts, Giselle Itie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gary Daniels
STUDIO: Lionsgate
OFFICIAL SITE: EXPENDABLESTHEMOVIE.COM
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Attention action film junkies! THE EXPENDABLES will provide your fix. Explosions = plentiful. Guts/gore factor = 10+. Body count = the population of a small city. Villains = truly heinous. Heroes = dedicated to the right and just. Predictable? Sure, but who cares? You’re not going to see this film to analyze a complicated plot; you’re going to enjoy the extreme stunts and effects, which probably employed every stunt man in Hollywood.

Sylvester Stallone directed, co-wrote, and stars in THE EXPENDABLES. It’s Sly’s baby, all the way. The plot is simple and familiar: some really bad guys need to be stopped and only an obscure group of super-strong and talented heroes can do the job. To Stallone’s credit, he did not over-write his own part. In fact, he’s pretty subdued – kind of the quiet leader, extremely cool, of course. He plays a mercenary named Barney Ross, and all his guys are former CIA special ops types, but they are GOOD mercenaries. The bad guys are mercenaries, too, led by cold-as-steel James Munro (Eric Roberts). Ross’s team is “hired” by a nameless character (an un-credited Bruce Willis) when the job is rejected by an old enemy of Ross’s, an un-credited Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now, here’s the good news for men of a certain age. These guys are middle-aged, and they can still kick a** and take names in a studly way. The oldest is Sly himself at 64. The youngest is Jason Statham at 38. The rest are in their 40’s and 50’s. Statham plays Lee Christmas, a hand-to-hand combat expert with wicked blade skills and an affinity for tight black shirts. Ying Yang (Jet Li), Toll Road (Randy Couture), and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) make up the rest of the team. Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) is a sometimes member, and looking the baddest of all, Mickey Rourke plays Tool, a sort of guru for the group. They tend to gather in Tool’s tattoo studio where he dispenses wisdom and knife-throwing lessons. Rourke looks like he’s been chewed up and spit out and then chewed up again, but the man can act. He’s completely believable as the elder statesman of this group of ex-spooks.

Munro’s henchmen include Paine (Steve Austin) and the Brit (Gary Daniels), and his puppet/patsy is the dictator of a fictional island country , Vilena, General Garza (David Zayas). Garza’s troops provide most of the body count. Women are incidental in this film; there are a couple of curvy girlfriends in tight, revealing clothing, and even the spunkiest woman, the team’s contact in Vilena, Sandra (Giselle Itie), becomes a damsel-in-distress who has to be rescued in the end. This is a guy’s movie. There are plenty of big guns and souped-up cars and motorcycles, not to mention plenty of heads and various limbs blown off or severed.

Thankfully, the feats of daring are not done in slo-mo, so they look more realistic. However, the fight sequences suffer from choppy editing that makes it hard to see what’s really going on, maybe to cut corners on the stunts. After all, slightly blurred faces, arms, and legs and super-fast transitions make it impossible to tell who’s really doing what, so it’s possible to double up or repeat things. Also, it may have been an attempt to speed up the pace of the film because there are a few parts that drag. Over all, the film is exactly what you’d expect. If you’re a fan of this genre, you won’t be disappointed. There will most likely be a sequel.

GRADE: B

THE EXPENDABLES hits theaters on August 13, 2010.

JoAnne Hyde reviews films for BOF.

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