Plot summary (from the studio): Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is a man with nothing to lose. Fearless and void of emotion, he is the leader, the sage and the strategist of this tight-knit band of men who live on the fringe. His only attachment is to his pickup truck, his seaplane and his team of loyal modern-day warriors. His is a true cynic who describes what he does as “removing those hard to get at stains.” The team behind him is made up of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), former SAS and a savant with anything that has a blade; Yin Yang (Jet Li), a master at close-quarter combat; Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), who has known Barney for ten years and is a long-barrel weapons specialist; Toll Road (Randy Couture), a skilled demolitions expert and considered the intellect of the group; and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), a combat veteran and an expert in precision sniping who struggles with his own demons.
When the mysterious Church offers Barney a job no one else would take, Barney and his team embark on what appears to be a routine mission: overthrow General Garza (David Zayas), the murderous dictator of the small island country of Vilena and end the years of death and destruction inflicted on its people. On a reconnaissance mission to Vilena, Barney and Christmas meet their contact Sandra (Giselle Itie), a local freedom-fighter with a dark secret. They also come to learn who their true enemy is: rogue ex-CIA operative James Monroe (Eric Roberts) and his henchman Paine (Steve Austin). When things go terribly wrong, Barney and Christmas are forced to leave Sandra behind, essentially giving her a death sentence. Haunted by this failure, Barney convinces the team to return to Vilena to rescue the hostage and finish the job he started. And to perhaps save a soul: his own.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- I have to admit that when Caesar showed up with that massive gun and started blasting people halfway across the ocean, I had to smile. That was probably the best part about the entire movie for me. It wasn’t exactly a surprise because Caesar and Barney talked about what the gun could do, but seeing it in action was a whole different ballgame!
- The dialogue was incredibly cheesy from beginning to end. Obviously action films aren’t known for scintillating dialogue, but there seemed to be even less effort than usual here. It was so bad that I lost count of how many cringeworthy lines there were.
- Speaking of cringeworthy, the much talked about scene between Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis was a huge letdown. It was stilted, uncomfortable, and totally unnecessary. What a miscalculation that was!
- WTF was up with the Dolph Lundgren character? He was out of control on the first mission (the pirate stuff), turned traitor and tried to kill Barney and Yin Yang, but then they’re all friends again at the end? With ZERO explanation at all?! Again, logic isn’t exactly expected out of films like this–but it would be greatly appreciated.
- If some dude you’re fighting rolls into a gasoline fire and emerges completely covered in flames, I don’t think you have to bother punching him out (the Toll Road vs. Paine fight).
- I’m sorry, I know Mickey Rourke’s confession about not stopping a suicide was supposed to be gut-wrenching, but it made me laugh. The tears were icing on the cake as far as the unintentional comedy went. Good lord, grizzled killers in action flicks shouldn’t be spewing “afterschool special” life advice like that.
- I thought the film was going to focus on the team, so I was disappointed that Stallone and Statham scored most of the screen time. There’s something about Statham that just bugs me (one of those irrational things that can’t be explained away).
- Some of the action scenes and CGI (like the general’s compound blowing up) were so bad that I felt like I was watching something from the ’80s. I know Stallone wanted to go “old school action” in this film, but I don’t think that was quite what he had in mind.
I like a fun, mindless action flick as much as the next person, but there really wasn’t anything about The Expendables that made it worth watching. I know it made almost a quarter of a billion dollars from worldwide box office revenue so I’m probably in the minority here, but I thought it pretty much sucked. One or two good scenes and a smile here or there couldn’t save it. I give the film 2 stars out of 5.