Expendable: capable of being sacrificed in order to accomplish a military objective.
Barney Ross is a man with nothing to lose. Fearless and devoid of emotion, he is the leader of a tight knit band of men who live on the edge. His team is made up of Lee Christmas – former SAS and a savant with anything that has a blade, Yin Yang- a master at close quarter combat, Hale Caesar – a long barrel weapons specialist, Toll Road – a skilled demolitions expert and Gunnar Jensen – a combat veteran and an expert in precision sniping who struggles with his own demons.
When a mysterious Mr Church offers Barney a job to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator, the team of expendables embark on what appears to be a routine mission. But soon the men realise things aren’t as they appear, finding themselves caught in a web of deceit and betrayal.
Director, writer, and lead actor Sylvester Stallone brings his latest action film throwback in the form of ‘The Expendables’ to follow up his recent ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rambo’ projects. ‘The Expendables’ puts together a line-up of action stars hailing from Stallone’s action movie heyday including Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke, to more recent stars including Jason Statham, Steve Austin and Terry Crews.
As the story unfolds the good chemistry among the cast becomes apparent, they seemed to have enjoyed working together and clearly have had plenty of fun making this film. The dialogue can get pretty corny and cheesy at times and the character development is light on but as they work together through each action sequence the cast come together and have a good time with the material.
With his charismatic style Jason Statham stands out a little more than most of the cast, with Stallone and Lundgren delivering solid performances as you’d expect. Jet Li manages to entertain even with the short amount of dialogue he has to work with as does Mickey Rourke, and Eric Roberts delivers a classic 1980’s action villain.
The film is paced quite well, weaving between the ridiculously violent and entertaining action scenes which are the core of the film, and the quieter character moments which serve to explain the motivations of the characters and ultimately move things along towards the next action sequence. The characters are pretty shallow, and the motivation of each character (along with their individual story arcs) are only nominally developed but ‘The Expendables’ isn’t really setting out to be anything other than an action packed ride.
From beginning to end the action scenes come thick and fast, at times getting a little too incomprehensible and for an homage to action films from 20 – 30 years ago the filming style can feel a little recent. This feeling quickly fades however as the film settles into its ridiculous unarmed fight, car pursuit, and fire fight scenes, which prove entertaining and a reminder to those viewers familiar with them, of the style of action filmmaking that has been so popular in the past.
The CGI is used quite lightly, making way for large set pieces to be detonated around the actors which amps up the entertainment value. When CGI does feature more prominently on screen it really doesn’t mix very well with the rest of the film’s style and stands out quite glaringly. Other visual effects shots which aren’t reliant on CGI fit much better with the style of the film and even though at times they look quite poor, it just seems to fit in with the feel and is all part of the charm.
‘The Expendables’ is a difficult film to rate, as it will no doubt mean something different to different viewers. For those going in with the nostalgia of 1980’s action popcorn blockbusters, this will no doubt charm and entertain, to younger audiences or those unexposed to the film movement where this style found popularity it may come off feeling like a straight to DVD film that snuck its way into theatres. For me, ‘The Expendables’ is a heck of a fun and entertaining time at the movies.
I’m giving it 3 stars and it’s released in theatres around Australia on the 12th August.