REVIEW: ‘The Expendables’

Director:
Sylvester Stallone
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone
Jason Statham
Jet Li
Dolph Lundgren
Eric Roberts
Randy Couture
Steve Austin
Rated: R

There are many movies that build a ton of hype for themselves, yet few can live up to it. The Expendables is a movie where it doesn’t just live up to the hype, but exceeds it.

The film follows a mercenary team called the Expendables, which is lead by Barney Ross (Stallone). Things get started during a mission on a ship where it shows just how skilled this team is.

After easily taking care of that mission they are given a much more dangerous one from the mysterious “Mr. Church” played by Bruce Willis. Church gives the crew the job of going to an island and taking out a military general that has brutally taken over the area.

A film like this based completely around the novelty of getting these action stars together doesn’t exactly have the most depth in its story. However, the movie does create some character arcs that can get an audience invested in what’s going on. Ross, for example, is troubled by his past and is trying to rediscover a reason to fight for a cause. Statham’s character, meanwhile, is trying to balance a normal life while being a merc.

It’s pretty standard stuff, but it works here by giving just enough structure around the characters to get an audience more engaged with what’s going on.

Also helping the movie were the characters themselves. What works about this aspect is that the actors bring their personalities that audiences are familiar with from previous films and bring them together, creating fun banter and solid one liners.

There’s also the great scene where Willis and Stallone meet up with another special cameo and it’s close to being worth the price of admission. It’s fun and makes some references, but doesn’t overstay its welcome, either.

The absolute best part of the movie, though, and the real reason to see the whole thing is the action. The action is extraordinarily well made, exciting and varied. There’s martial arts, wrestling, gun fire, knife fighting, car chases. Anything and everything you want to see from an action flick, this delivers. It also does so in a bit of a throwback to the 80s and 90s, making it all the more fun.

The final 30 minutes are absolutely spectacular, with one of the biggest battles in a while. There’s so much going on and it’s all exhilarating.

Because of its likable characters, fun one liners and superb action on screen, “The Expendables” deserves a very high 4 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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