Film Review: The Expendables

If you like your storyline thin and your body count high, The Expendables is the most enjoyable straightforward action film of the year.

A group of mercenaries led by Barney Ross are offered an assignment to assassinate the dictator of a small island is South America. When they arrive, things aren’t exactly what they seem, and the group faces a highly perilous mission…

Sylvester Stallone directs, co-writes and stars in this big-budget action spectacle. He has assembled some of the best-known action stars from the last few decades, including cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This works well; there is a real sense of camaraderie, as well as the obligatory in-jokes.

The plot is light, but then that’s not really the attraction of The Expendables. The main draw is seeing all these action stars – Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and others – together on the big screen. Coupled with this are the large-scale action scenes and the graphic fights.

The Expendables harks back to the testosterone-fuelled action films of the 1980s, through not only the casting but also the style. This is by no means a bad thing; after numerous action films attempting to combine a bit of everything it makes a change to see a film so unequivocally action-focused. Most importantly, the film is executed well enough to entice a range of cinemagoers; it is not just the action film devotees who will enjoy it.

The pyrotechnics and stunts are commendable, although there is one effect used in the film that looks a little unrealistic. The soundtrack matches the bravura nature of the visuals. The Expendables builds pace, combining action scenes with more dialogue-laden ones, until the frenetic finale. It is Mickey Rourke’s character who provides the only real depth to proceedings; but then again this film isn’t an emotional drama.

Overall, The Expendables is a highly enjoyable film, and a welcome return of the no-nonsense, unrelentingly violent, unabashedly masculine action film.

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