Rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language, 103 minutes
"The Expendables" is macho mindless entertainment
I will tell you up front, don't expect much from the new Sylvester Stallone action film "The Expendables." Don't take it too seriously, go in with low expectations, and you might actually have some fun. Preposterous, just plain silly and featuring more explosions than you can count, "The Expendables" seems both to parody the bad '80s films that Stallone was known for and take itself way too seriously, but then maybe that's the point.
Stallone is Barney Ross, leader of a group of highly-trained mercenaries known as The Expendables. His group includes characters played by Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture and Terry Crews. They're hired by the mysterious man known only as Church (Bruce Willis), who gives a bucket load of cash to bring down a ruthless South American dictator named Garza (David Zayas), but they soon realize that a former rogue CIA agent named Monroe (Eric Roberts) and a former Expendable named Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) have already been weaving a very dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. The Expendables put their own lives at risk to bring down the bad guys and save the day.
Utterly ridiculous, loud and mindless at best, "The Expendables" is guilty-pleasure action-adventure fun in the right frame of mind. As a homage to those bad macho '80s action-flicks ("Rambo" anyone?), it works well; an entertaining piece of junk it is, but on any other level, not so much. Only Stallone, in post-"Rocky" washed-up form, would write something that gives him the best throwaway lines, the best stunts and the decades-younger pretty girl. The plot is preposterously murky, the acting and what dialogue there is - as expected - pretty awful, but there's enough gratuitous action, big explosions and violence to thankfully keep the film moving along at a brisk pace.
Also, Stallone has managed to gather some former and current action-adventure stars together that make "Expendables" worth a look. In film's highlight, Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis share a brief scene together that has the action superstars together on screen for the first time. It's a treat seeing all three together, albeit only very briefly, and listen for Stallone's line - the funniest one in the film - as Schwarzenegger walks off.
Current martial arts stars Statham and Li are energetic, Roberts chews on scenery as the bad guy, Mickey Rourke tries for tears in a supporting role, though Lundgren lumbers way too slowly and wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin has no business trying to act. What will please the many fans who turn out for this will be the action scenes and the graphically violent fight scenes using big knives, lots of blood and an assortment of body parts.
It is what it is, "The Expendables" is big, dumb, loud and much more enjoyable than I had planned. His "Expendables" sequel should include the ones he couldn't get in this film: Steven Seagal, Wesley Snipes, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, who turned down the film because there wasn't "enough characterization." Are you kidding? Grab some soda and macho nachos and settle in for a evening of mindless action, blood, guts and washed-up movie stars.