The Expendables (2010)

Nine armed men dressed in black standing shoulder to shoulder, Sylvester Stallone front and center.An Expendable Effort

Director: Sylvester Stallone
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, David Zayas, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke

The initial idea, of reuniting the action movie heroes of yesteryear, for one adventure is an alluring one that's packed with nostalgic promise. No wonder audiences flocked to see how this would turn out, which makes it all the more a shame that the overall result is a dud.

The film follows Barney Ross (Stallone), head of a group of mercenaries known as The Expendables. They are hired by a CIA Operative (Willis) to eliminate a merciless Latin Dictator, and the rogue CIA Operative he's working with (Zayas and Roberts).

Considering the overall flick was touted as a team film, built up of action heroes, it's puzzling how the focus is squarely on Stallone and Statham. While Terry Crews is unsurprisingly entertaining, he remains massively underused, while Jet Li seems to only be around for short jokes to be made. Dolph Lundgren proves to overly-volatile, making it ridiculous that he stays on the team for as long as he does, while Randy Couture serves no other purpose than to talk about his Cauliflower Ear. Mickey Rourke is the most underutilized cast member, wasted in a role that requires him to merely believe that the BS he talks about is actually deep and meaningful.

In a film full of questionable acting, it's never a good sign when the lead proves to be massively bland in his role. Granted, serving as both lead and director is never an easy task, but the heavy-handed direction coupled with the prior problem makes it seem like no attempt was made by Stallone to even try. At least Jason Statham provides some fun with his role.

Strike a pose
The action will be an element that draws crowds in, which makes it unfortunate how this element is hampered by constant cuts and shaky camera work, to deliver unsatisfying work. It also doesn't help how unnecessarily graphic things are, while the poor CG is an awful distraction.

One of the most talked-about elements of the trailer is how action legends Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger appear together in the same scene. Sadly, this highly anticipated moment proves to be a bust, resulting in something unmemorable that's only inserted to get audiences into seats, and a showcase for how easily Bruce Willis can now sleepwalk through his roles.

The script is one of the more problematic elements in this picture. The stilted dialogue is never more evident than in the forced attempts at banter, while the ridiculous character decisions will surely rub you the wrong way. The tension regularly gets hampered by the many clichés and the predictable route taken, remaining one of the more annoying parts of this overall picture. The most jarring element is how one character seems to get a send-off after making a questionable decision, only to make a reappearance at the end as if none of his prior scenes had happened.

The Expendables may hold nostalgic value and promise for anybody who wished to see action stars united on the big screen. Unfortunately, the overall result is a bland dud that seems focused on running through as many tired clichés as possible and delivering unsatisfying action work. It would also be helpful if much of the cast actually acted, or if a focus was cast on the team rather than only two of its members.