Director: Sylvester Stallone
Runtime: 103 minutes (standard version), 113 minutes (director’s cut)
MPAA Rating: R
The Expendables is a special treat for fans of 1980s action cinema, even if the finished product doesn’t always follow the filmmaking conventions of an action picture from that time period. A group of mercenaries is hired to overthrow Garza (David Zayas), the dictator of the Latin American country of Vilena (should’ve been Val Verde, but whatever), and take out James Munroe (Eric Roberts), his handler, a renegade CIA agent. How does a film about a bunch of people shooting each other for over an hour-and-a-half sound to you?
This movie is very much a piece of fan service, but it does what it does so well that I can’t hold that against it. To say that the cast is “all-star” would be an understatement. The pacing is swift, but I wish the heroes had more of a Wilsonian motivation for their mission to topple Garza and restore democracy to Vilena. It would’ve given the flick a bit more justification for the borderline-senseless bloodthirstiness of the third act.
The Expendables is action-packed to the point of going past good taste, something that should have action junkies drooling. Despite often being billed as an ’80s throwback, the action often feels more like something out of the twenty-first century. There’s a lot of fake-looking, computer-generated blood and the camera during the fights is occasionally too close to the combat. Combine this with some rapid-fast editing and some dark lighting, and the action sequences don’t feel optimized. Still, they’re ridiculously thrilling when it is possible to make out what’s taking place.
The Expendables is a pure action film for fans of that sort of thing. Fortunately for me, I fit that demographic, so I love it…even if I have some reservations. Don’t expect a perfect recreation of the ’80s action aesthetic and you’ll have a blast (well, if you like action movies to begin with). For me, this is an easily watchable (and rewatchable) feature. Seeing this many action stars under one roof is worth the admission price alone.
My rating is 9 outta 10.