Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As Sylvester Stallone’s latest romantic comedy ‘The Expendables’ opens we observe some Somalian Pirates… Oh, damn… they’re dead now. Eviscerated. Slaughtered. The walls have been painted with their blood as if done by Michelangelo himself. The only thing that would’ve made this opening scene sweeter is if one of those pirates was dressed up like Jack Sparrow. Man would I love to see that. However one of our Expendables, Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), was a little too gung ho in murdering pirates which got him a stern reprimand from boss Expendable Barney (Stallone). Apparently when you’re a blood thirsty, ultra violent, pathologically murderous mercenary there are acceptable ways to do things and unacceptable ways to do things. This I did not know.

Our Expendables consist of the afore mentioned Barney, his right hand man Christmas (Jason Stratham), the Kung Fu Kicking Yang (Jet Li), the emotionally fragile Toll Road (Randy Coutre) and Caesar (Terry Crews) who is having a one sided love affair with his new shotgun. Unfortunately Barney had to let Gunner go who also happens to be a drug addict in addition to being insane and bigger than everybody else. Our crew hangs out at the garage of a former Expendable and current tattoo artist called Tool (Mickey Rourke) who is that sage, broken, intelligent dude who has seen far to much and will be dispensing life altering advice as this movie goes on.

Then comes the call for The Job. A man called Church (Bruce Willis) summons Barney and his competition Mr. Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) for a certain suicide mission to unseat some crazy drug dealing Dictator at some remote pacific island. Trench begs off because he has a state to finish running into the ground, but Barney takes his right hand man Christmas on a quick trip to do some recon and access the viability of the situation.

It doesn’t take our heroes long to realize this mission would be crazy stupid. The General (David Zayas) is just the tip of the iceberg with the real problem being ex CIA loon Munroe (Eric Roberts) and his violent sidekicks Paine (Steve Austin) and Brit (Gary Daniels). Yeah, the endless armed soldiers are a problem as well, but those two guys? Forget that. Despite the fact that Barney is sympathetic to the cause, mainly due to his sizzling hot contact Sandra (Giselle Itie) and her loyalty to her nation, it’s a crazy stupid mission. No way. Not happening.

Oh… you know better. After yet another one of those drawn out ‘Remember back in Bosnia…’ speeches from Tool, Barney is going to this island to set it free. He tells his team that this is a solo mission. As if. I don’t want to be the one to spoil it for you, but stuff is going to blow up. For Real.

If you happen to be reading this, wherever you happen to be on the planet earth, you’ve probably already seen ‘The Expendables’ and as such you really don’t want my opinion of this movie. What you’re searching for, my friend, is reaffirmation. You’re looking for someone to reassure you that you are okay for enjoying this movie. You may have read other comments from other professional outlets, which this clearly isn’t, and seen words such as ‘sadistic’, ‘incoherent’, ‘a testosterone drenched mess’. But yet you liked this movie, loved it even and are now you are wondering ‘what’s wrong with me?’.

I am here to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you my friend. The problem is with those walking into this movie, a movie called ‘The Expendables’ with these stars and this director, expecting anything other that what this movie promised to deliver. If the powers that be had fallen short on delivering any of this, I’d be the first one to let you know. It did not. If you have seen this movie you may have pondered how the character of Barney became a mercenary. A little character development. But I’m betting you didn’t wonder about that at all. Not one little bit. You may have keenly observed after watching the character of Barney remove that guys head from his shoulders with his handy serrated knife and how that scene was eerily similar to the Dinner scene in Truffaut’s ‘The Man who Loved Women’. Or maybe not. Because it wasn’t.

The magic of ‘The Expendables’ is that director Stallone didn’t ask his stars to do anything that they can’t do, including himself. Since Mickey Rourke is the best actor of this motley crew of action stars, what little acting was required was palmed off on him. Stone Cold, Gary Daniels… perfect bad guys. Eric Roberts as the well dressed, well groomed and articulate asshole, perfect. Everybody else was cast accordingly. If Stallone made a mistake he gave Jet Li way too many lines, and he only had a few.

‘The Expendables’ isn’t clever, it isn’t smart, it isn’t trying to make a grand statement. There are no gay pirates, metrosexual vampires or whiney adolescent sorcerers in this film. It is an action movie. It is a movie where people get shot up, stabbed up, blowed up and cars run into poles and explode. And then they do it all over again. It is simplicity itself, a throwback to time when movies like this were actually popular and no one used words like ‘sadistic’ in describing them. Sadistic is sitting through ‘Beaches’ or one of those ‘Sex in the City’ movies.

There’s nothing wrong with you my friend, be you male or female, you are just fine. We here have been waiting for this movie since it was announced, and as such it could only disappoint. It did not. I don’t know what other expectations that someone could have from a movie called ‘The Expendables’ directed by Sylvester Stallone and counting Dolph Lundgren as one it’s stars… but we can’t help them. They are beyond our help.

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