The Expendables is a rarity. A film that could have made millions without a single screenshot or piece of footage being shown before it’s release. It’s trailer could quite easily have been a powerpoint presentation showing nothing but the cast and the title and it still would have had men all over the world weak at the knees.
Action films have changed over the years but there’s always been a minority harking back to the days of Arnie spouting one-liners and Stallone’s insane Rambo hair. Except it was never a minority at all, it was a majority that simply didn’t know it wanted those things. Sylvester Stallone made The Expendables for these people.
Joining Stallone on screen are a host of confirmed badasses. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Eric Roberts and Terry Crews. But the posters mentioned two more men who with Stallone form the three biggest action stars of all time. Bruce Willis and the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger share one scene with Sly and while not exactly high on acting skill it’s a dream scene many thought they would never see, with plenty of what makes each of the men a legend of the business.
Unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to that level of nostalgia. For a film that draws so much from the legacies of its actors, it takes itself surprisingly seriously. The ideas are ciche, soldiers who have been fighting for decades living with the memories of what they’ve done, and the acting quality available doesn’t help that, although Mickey Rourke who does well with the short screen time he has.
Criticising the acting would be missing the overall point slightly. However bad it may be at points, acting is the last reason any right-thinking gentleman would want to see this film. We came for guns, explosions and several tons of manliness smashing into our faces. We get that. The action is loud, hectic and enthralling. Punches land with the force of bullets, bullets land with the force of C4 and C4 goes off with the force of a nuclear bomb. The final act is a non-stop assault on the ears with a constant stream of profanity and gunpowder for nearly 20 minutes. The death toll rises as fast as your pulse.
Stallone may not have intended The Expendables to be a mindless piece of actiontainment but that’s the final result. It may be held back slightly by a slightly misused supporting cast but you get to see Stone Cold Steve Austin take on Sylvester frickin’ Stallone! That’s has to be worth the admission price!… and the popcorn, and the drink, and the new pair of pants you’ll be wanting once you’ve crapped yourself out of unbridled joy!