Action Month - "The Expendables"

3.5

MRR's Action Movie Month - "The Expendables"

-- Rating: R (strong action and bloody violence throughout, and some language)
Length: 103 minutes
Release date: August 3, 2010
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Genre: Action, Adventure, and Thriller

"The Expendables" offers a nostalgic throwback to the 1980s adventure movies that were known for providing audiences with thrilling heroics, big name stars, and a strong emphasis on action. Fans of the action film genre who like a movie that does not ask too much of its audience may find much to enjoy. The film features many of the most famous action stars of the last three decades. While definitely a violent film, "The Expendables" is somewhat unique to the action genre because it does not contain any scenes that would be considered grotesque or controversial.

"The Expendables" is more concerned with delivering over the top bombastic fun and features a cast of the best loved and most well known action stars doing what they do best. The story focuses on a group of mercenaries who take on missions in locations ranging from Somalia to South America. While this crack team of military experts may sell their skills to the highest bidder, when it comes to saving the day, there is no one more qualified for the job.

Action legend Sylvester Stallone has a long history of success when it comes to writing, directing and staring in some of the best known action movies of all time, and this film proved to be no exception. Here he stars as Barney Ross, the leader of a team of elite warriors played by some of the biggest names in the business. When not on a mission, Ross spends time reminiscing about the good old days with friend and former comrade, Tool, played by Mickey Rourke. Ross and Tool share a number of scenes that define both characters and explore the past that made them who and what they are today. In keeping with the genre, these two warhorses are able to define their relationship with few words while still providing audiences a much needed glimpse into the history and past that has served to shape Ross into the hardened soldier who leads his team during their heroic exploits.

The story opens with a CIA agent, Mr. Church (Bruce Willis), who offers the team their latest and most challenging job: overthrowing the brutal regime of dictator General Garza (David Zavas). The scene, featuring a cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger, kicks off a storyline that provides action fans and audiences with a number of thrilling scenes, action set pieces and exciting moments that never seem to let up.

Ross, together with his second in command Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), conduct a reconnaissance mission that takes them both to the island nation of Vilena. The team finds themselves in much greater danger when they discover that Garza's army is under the command of James Munroe (Eric Roberts) a former CIA operative turned drug lord. With the realization that their CIA employers have hired them to deal with one of their own, the team quickly goes about ensuring that Munroe is dealt the swift justice he deserves.

Ross and Christmas are joined by explosives expert Toll Road (Randy Couture) Yin Yang (Jet Li) weapons specialist Caesar Hale (Terry Crews) and sniper Gunnar Jensen (action veteran Dolph Lundgren). With the full team assembled, the assault on Vilena begins and audiences are treated to all the thrilling action, well choreographed fight scenes and explosions that they would expect to find from any movie featuring such an all-star cast of cinematic legends.

While the film is intended for a wide audience, some viewers may feel that the action stars are well past their prime. The nonstop action and breakneck pace that set the tone of this film will be more than enough to win over audience members. Many viewers who require more fleshed out characters and nuanced stories may find this film to be somewhat lacking. Action film fans will undoubtedly find "The Expendables" well worth a look. The chance to see so many of the legends who shaped the genre share the screen is not one that should be passed up. Those who truly enjoy this film will be excited to hear that the actors will be reprising their roles in "The Expendables 3" this year.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars