Those of you that have been following me for a while now, know that I am a huge fan of the 80’s. I don’t know what it is with that era, but it will always have a very special place in my heart. Probably a big reason that I love it so much is that I grew up during those times, and I have some very fond memories of it. While I could give a (very) lengthy list of all the things that are so cool about the 80’s, I’m going to select one of them for this post, as it’s pretty relevant for the review of this movie. In the 80’s some of the best action films of all time have been made. Yes, I know some people might disagree with me on that fact, but just look at this personal list of some of my favorite Action Movies of the 80’s and tell me I’m wrong. Undoubtedly two of 80’s biggest action stars where Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However with that popularity also came a huge rivalry, and suffice it to say that both actors hated each other’s guts in those days. Every time they tried to outdo each other with bigger guns, bigger explosions, bigger knives…well..you get the idea. Luckily that rivalry is in the past as the two have now become very good friends and have even made some movies together. Too bad that didn’t happen during the golden days of action in the 80’s because just think about what they would have been able to create between the two of them.
In 2010 Sylvester Stallone gathered together a group of action heroes from times past and present to direct them in a movie that would become an action extravaganza that was made for the fans of those golden times. The Expendables tells the tale of a group of elite mercenaries that take on dangerous missions that nobody else even dares to think about. Or if you want a better description let’s say they are the A-team on steroids. Barney Ross is the team’s fearless leader and one day he gets contacted by a man that introduces himself as Mr. Church, because well, their first meeting is in a church. A small island called Vilena is currently in the clutches of a vile dictator named General Garza. Church wants him taken out. Before taking on the mission, Barney along with his best friend Lee Christmas, decides to do some recon. Arriving on the island they soon meet up with their contact, a beautiful girl that goes by the name of Sandra. There is more to her then meets the eye though, and there is also more to the mission itself as well, as Barney and Lee are about to find out. Former CIA-agent James Munroe is apparently the one that is really calling the shots on Vilena and he has some very nefarious plans in store. Even though their chances are slim to none, and a whole army awaits them, Barney plans to bring the team in for what might become a suicide mission. But hey, they don’t call themselves Expendables for nothing right?
When I first heard of this project back in the day I became more and more excited as the names that were being added to the cast of the movie became ever more impressive. Well, if you are a fan of action movies that is. Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and of course the man himself Sylvester Stallone are but a few of the actors that are starring in this film. This is an action film just like they made them in the 80’s. This movie simply ticks all the right boxes you want to see in these kind of movies. Huge explosions? You got em. Car chase scenes? You betcha! Gun fights and all sorts of martial arts sequences where testosterone filled men kick the crap out of each other? Of course! Cheesy oneliners? Hey, what do you think? For a fan of these type of action flicks, it’s simply put a lovefest that doesn’t let up for a second. It’s dumb, and completely over the top, but oh boy is this film a lot of fun. No matter what you think of it, I think nobody can deny the fact that one has to have enormous respect for Stallone. At the time of this film he was 64 years of age and he not only directed the movie but also runs and fights like he’s half that age. It’s a tour de force that is utterly amazing, and for the people that say he’s well to coin a phrase, expendable in this film, I say think again!
But it’s not only the action that makes this film so much fun. The cast itself is another huge part of the succes of this action vehicle. A small but very enjoyable scene between Schwarzenegger, Willis and Stallone have them making fun of each other, and it works really well. Sadly that would be the only screentime both The Terminator and John McClane would have in this film. Either way that doesn’t really matter as the rest of the cast more than make up for it. It’s definitely Stallone’s and Statham’s characters that carry this film, and their on screen chemistry is one of it’s highlights. Their comedic banter during gunfights is definitely funny, although admittedly some jokes do fall short. Mickey Rourke has a more thoughtful role in the film, and doesn’t take part in the numerous action scenes, but is more of father figure to the group. There’s a scene in the film where his character has a speech about how he ended up losing the last part of his soul that I thought was acted extremely well. Rourke is still a terrific actor, and it’s sad how his lifestyle has made him a former shadow of himself. That said, it’s great to see him in this fun role. Speaking of fun roles, Lundgren’s character Gunner Jensen is a total nutcase, and you can how much he’s enjoying himself. He’s totally out of control during most of the movie and serves up some of the movies best fight sequences.
On the villain’s side Eric Roberts plays the malicious James Munroe, a truly destestable man, that you both hate and love. Hate because he’s so evil. Love because he’s a true villain with charisma. It’s a credit to Eric Roberts who in my opinion has always been a very underrated actor. But let’s also not forget David Zayas who breathes life into the vile dictator General Garza. I loved his interaction with Eric’s character, as the two men have a power struggle during the course of the film, and have some truly great scenes together acting wise. The Expendables eventually got two sequels that had even more action heroes added to it’s already impressive cast, but that’s a story for another time. This won’t be a film that is loved by everyone, and I totally respect that. Some people might even call it a totally dumb film, and I get that as well. It doesn’t bother me one bit though, as I freaking love this movie. It’s a film that is a throwback to the action era of the 80’s and at the same time fills you with a sense of melancholy as you know that those times are not going to return. Stallone is and always shall be my favorite action hero, and he simply shows in this film that he knows the action genre inside and out. As his former rival says in another movie: He might be old, but not obsolete.
I give the Expendables a 9 out of 10 score.