The Expendables Review

Like me if you’re in your mid to late 30’s or older then you probably grew up watching and perhaps like myself, loving 80’s action films, TV shows and actors. Films like Commando, Rambo, The Terminator, Predator, Delta Force, Beverly Hills Cop, Missing in Action, Die Hard and Death Wish. Actors like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger Dolph Lundgren Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Eddie Murphy and Jean-Claude van Damme were my childhood heroes of film and TV. I remember having film posters of The Terminator, Raw Deal and The Running Man on my bedroom walls.

Although over the years the action film have never died and have been a staple of Hollywood and summer blockbusters, they rarely have had the feel, nostalgia and share escapism fun those films of the 80’s did. Maybe it’s just because I was a kid and more excitable than my more sensible self of my 20’s and 30’s, but this changed earlier this year when I watched The Expendables and A-Team trailers. I was 14 again and down at my local video store renting 15 and 18 rated action films I shouldn’t have been able to and rushing home in excitement to watch them. (Ahh bless those fun days when I’d watch the likes of Conan, American Ninja and Invasion USA after school before my mum came home from work).

** minor spoilers **

The Expendables stars  Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lungren, Jet Li, with cameo appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis is a through back to those great and let’s be fair not so great 80’s action movies. It plays homage to a time when storylines and great acting gave way to big explosions, exaggerated actions and trying to outdo each other in body counts.

The film is a hard-hitting action/thriller about a group of mercenaries hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator who is being funded by drug lord James Munroe (Eric Roberts). Once the mission begins, the men realize things aren’t quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. With their mission thwarted and an innocent life in danger the men struggle with an even tougher challenge, one that threatens to destroy this band of brothers.

The film starts off as the team storm a ship that Somalian pirates have taken hostages. These opening scenes introduce us to the characters and set the tone for the level of violence and action you can expect. While rescuing the hostages it becomes obvious that team member Gunner Jenson (Dolph Lundgren) is becoming a liability to the team and needs to be cut.

Before the gang set off for South America three of Hollywood’s greatest action stars (Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Bruce Willis) finally appear in a film together for the first time. Bruce Willis has this job in South America and sets up a meeting with two mercenaries leaders (Schwarzenegger and Stallone) offering them the job. Stallone eventually accept the mission following some banter and one liner’s plucked straight out of 1985. When this scene happened, the cinema I was in erupted in cheers and applause. I loved it, but in reflection after a few days I now have the feeling this could have been so much bigger and better.

When the action gets flowing there are a lot of brutal killings, explosions, car chases and some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen for a while. Jason Statham who plays Stallone’s second in command Lee Christmas steals a lot of scenes and for me is currently the UK best action star.  Added to the mix is Mickey Rourke who plays Tool, Stallone’s retired ex partner now seemingly the wise, advice giving tattooist working out of a shop that seems to be the teams unofficial base. It should also be noted that Dolph Lundgren’s calm and psychotic performance stands out.

At times the pace of the film surprisingly slows down and takes a more serious direction in particular the opening 30 mins and a speech given by Tool, but you’re quickly thrown back into great fight scenes and a bullet count to rival Arnie’s 1985 classic Commando.

If you go to watch The Expendables with a The Guardian or New York Times film critic mind set then you’re wasting your time. This is plain and simply a fun, old school, kick ass, corny one liner’s, and high octane action film. Yeah this could have been a whole lot better and with that cast of action legends it could have been…well…legendary, but I left the cinema with a smile on my face feeling fully entertained. Job done!

The Expendables – 7/10

The Expendables comes out on Fri August 13th in the US and Fri August 20th in the UK

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