DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
EXPENDABLES, THE (director/writer: Sylvester Stallone; screenwriter: David Callaham/based on a story by Mr. Callaham; cinematographer: Jeffrey Kimball; editors: Ken Blackwell/Paul Harb; music: Brian Tyler; cast: Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross), Jason Statham (Lee Christmas), Jet Li  (Yin Yang), Dolph Lundgren (Gunner Jensen), Eric Roberts (James Munroe), Randy Couture (Toll Road), Steve Austin (Paine), David Zayas (General Garza), Giselle Itié (Sandra), Charisma Carpenter (Lacy), Gary Daniels (the Brit), Terry Crews (Hale Caesar), Mickey Rourke (Tool), Bruce Willis (Church); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Avi Lerner/John Thompson/Kevin King Templeton; Lionsgate; 2010)

 
"It passes for an average Stallone film, which doesn't quite make it a good pic even though it's not exactly a bad pic."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

The 64-year-old Sylvester Stallone ("Staying Alive"/"Rambo"/"Rocky 2") stars, cowrites with David Callaham and directs this macho bloodbath blow-em up action B-film, that has a who's who all-star cast of aging action heroes from the last several decades. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have cameos, that don't involve them in action. Of note in this simplistic escapist formulaic film about mercenary warriors is the male bonding, the colorful warriors showing off their various fighting skills and the loading up of the actioner with nostalgia from the good ol' 1980s and its brand of high body count bang-bang and splat action sequences.

American mercenary leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) proudly proclaims "If the money's right, we don't care where the job is." With that in mind (which also slyly explains the reason behind this forgettable commercial film being funded), Barney gets hired by the mysterious Church (Bruce Willis) to eliminate a well-tailored rogue ex-CIA agent, James Munroe (Eric Roberts), and his sadistic bodyguard Paine (Steve Austin), who run a profitable cocaine operation on the South American island nation of Vilena. Munroe has bought off the despotic country leader, General Garza (David Zayas), to help him stop any opposition and suppress the peasant population.

Barney and, expert knife thrower, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) meet in Vilena their contact, Sandra (Giselle Itié ), the idealistic reform minded artist daughter of the general, who explains the bad situation is due to the country's despot working for the American drug kingpin to the ruination of the country. When attacked by the general's men, the boys kill around a few hundred of the despot's Latino soldiers before escaping in their plane. Sandra chooses to remain behind, and as a result gets captured and tortured.

Back in the States, Barney meets with his tough-guy motorcycle riding crew in a New Orleans tattoo parlor run by Tool (Mickey Rourke), an ex-Expendable member now spending some quality time with sexpot bimbos, riding his motorcycle, smoking a long-stemmed pipe, perfecting his tattooing art and refusing to go out on any more missions because of burnout and not wanting to lose his whole soul. But when the paternalistic Barney decides to return to Vilena to save Sandra (showing that's how a father is supposed to behave), he's joined again by Lee and also by three other gung-ho combat-ready Expendables (Jet-Li, Terry Crews and Randy Couture). Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) is turned down because of his drug habit and high volatility, which Barney says makes him unreliable. It leads to the fiery climactic half hour siege on Garza's Palacio, where the body count easily surpasses 200 and just about everything gets blown up.

The dialogue and story stink, but the action is fast and furious. How the mercenaries take back Vilena, is as good as the action scenes in Robert Aldrich’s "The Dirty Dozen." If that's what you are looking for, then this action pic will probably work for you. It passes for an average Stallone film, which doesn't quite make it a good pic even though it's not exactly a bad pic.

REVIEWED ON 8/14/2010       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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