A CIA operative hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent.A CIA operative hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent.A CIA operative hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent.
The plot is essentially a small group of mercenaries heading into a tropical island in order to take out the dictator and his ex-CIA puppet-master: so far, so "one man against endless ethnic army" 80's style plotting. And indeed so it is, complete with unnecessary violence and overblown physical actions and seemingly indestructible heroes. It plays out just the way you expect it to do and those looking for action sequences will enjoy the many fights and scenes where everything blows up (Terry Crews in particular demonstrating to the world why Infinity Ward were out of their minds to make the AA-12 a "secondary" weapon in Modern Warfare 2!). The downside of the action is that, while it is enjoyable, it doesn't deliver enough of two key things.
The first of these is genuine thrills. It comes close and there are good moments but generally you find yourself sitting back watching the mayhem for the sake of mayhem, whereas I would prefer to be sucked into and really gripped by the action - I wasn't really here; instead most of the action is of the video game style – where the enemy just keeps spawning in front of you and getting chopped down by powerful weaponry. The second thing that isn't as prevalent as I wanted was comedy. We get the odd bit here and there, but really Jet Li's "because I'm small" speech is probably the high point. What was needed was more comedy mixed in with the action. There were a few kiss-off lines but nothing memorable or even "good". These are important because it makes the excess easier to enjoy as just part of a fun package – the film not having enough suspense or thrills makes the lack of this "fun" all the more obvious and notable of a gap.
The cast do help though and not just in terms of having big names in there. They do have an easy charisma between them and they all play off each other well – whether it be Stallone and Statham or the brief cameos from Willis and Swarzenegger. Crews isn't used particularly well but otherwise I liked everyone else in it, even if there were probably too many of them to really do much with – I thought it was a good move, despite appearing to be an ensemble piece, to put most of the focus on two of them rather than spreading it evenly around. Of course looking at it fairly, the film is not great – the plot is obvious and full of "groan" moments that we have to have simply because of the genre plus it is hard to shake the feeling that the film is more for the stars benefit than it is about the viewers, like perhaps they enjoyed it more than I did? Overall though The Expendables is a solid enough 80's style action movie that does everything you expect it to do but nothing more. Personally I preferred The Losers to this simply because it delivered action and comedy blended well to make for an enjoyably silly actioner, whereas this doesn't really do that and perhaps takes itself a little too seriously for its own good. A solid genre film and enjoyable as that, but it doesn't do enough to justify the sheer volume of big names in it.
- bob the moo
- Nov 18, 2010