5 Stars

The Expendables - Movie Review


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Having left his mark on the action movie genre with such glorified films as Rambo, Cobra, Lock Up, Over the Top, and Tango & Cash, one would think Sylvester Stallone would hang up the shoulder holster and put down the weights and just take it easy for a bit.  He concluded the Rambo and Rocky series with flying colors and, in doing so, earned a hell of a lot more respect than he already had.  There’s nothing left to prove, right?  Right?  Yeah, any other person would think that, but not Stallone.  Apparently, he’s not alone in that thinking and damn if it isn’t a good thing, too.  In a cinematic world full of masked superheroes, alter egos, and hard-striking maniacal villains, it certainly is a breath of fresh air to have someone like Stallone pound the hell out of moviegoers with the old-school action and buddy feel of The Expendables, a film that delivers everything you want and more from a once thought dead genre.

Written by Stallone and Dave Callaham, The Expendables isn’t going to make you weep over the human condition or want to cuddle with your significant other.  It isn’t vying for an Oscar win.  It doesn’t want a Golden Globe or even a Razzie, for that matter.  The Expendables simply wants to kick some ass.  Yours, if need be.  It’s a take no prisoner, kill’em all type of action-ensemble film that reads as a send-off to everything we once loved about the genre.  It’s Stallone, once again, giving audiences EXACTLY what they want and expect.

I could go into details about the film’s story concerning a ragamuffin mercenary outfit with an unlimited amount of bullets, but – in doing so – I’d have to put a size 12 boot up my own ass for missing the point of the picture.  All you need to know is that it brutalizes most “action” films from this decade with a firm grasp on a meat cleaver and then delivers a steely punch straight to the gut that your ancestors will certainly feel.  And you’ll love every minute of it.  Guaranteed.

Stallone plays Barney Ross, a paramilitary veteran and leader of the team, without any fear.  He’s a true cynic with nothing to lose.  His best friend, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), is a close-quarters fighter and former SAS soldier who has having relationship issues with his girlfriend (Charisma Carpenter) and knows not to approach the cynic with his domestic problems.  Jet Li is Yin Yang, a martial arts expert with a mind of his own.  Rounding out the rest of the team is Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews (in a part originally written for Wesley Snipes), Randy Couture, and ex-member Mickey Rourke as Tool, a weapons dealer and tattoo artist.  Co-starring Eric Roberts, David Zayas, Steve Austin, Gary Andrews, and featuring cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Expendables packs one hell of a meat locker.

First introduced to the majesty of the team as they encounter a group of Somalia pirates (an accidental topicality, I’m sure), it becomes quickly understood that the only real trouble these guys will face is from each other.  The brutality they unleash against their enemies is unflinching and quick, yet their humor towards each other is of an antagonistic tongue-and-cheek mentality.  Seeing as how the members are comprised of pure muscle and testosterone, one should expect that their tempers remain unchecked throughout the picture…even as they chase after the villains and attempt to save Sandra (Gisele Itié) a freedom fighter that caught Ross off-guard with her beliefs.

Since the movie is pretty much a compendium of who’s who of action stars, there should be no expectations other than for the movie to ROCK.  And it does.  Thundering explosions – each one topping the previous – and a full-throttled narrative bring this picture to its final destination as a genuine crowd pleaser.  Yes, it has its moments of intended cheese and even a few moments of iffy impromptu dialogue, but The Expendables isn’t trying to be anything more than a beautifully unrealistic action movie with some serious badass attitude from its stars as they take down a rogue CIA agent and an evil dictator.

Truthfully, the film is a literal and figurative blast from start to finish.  The fight scenes, once the weapons have been abandoned, are hair-raising and brutally epic in length.  Unreltening, comes to mind.  Very.  And bloody.  Stallone might have gotten his neck damaged by Austin in their incredibly brutal fight scenes, but he still has the sense to know when a film, operating as homage while making a contemporary statement about all things action, ABSOLUTELY works.

Me?  I want another round of The Expendables.  Someone make this happen.

Reload the fun.


Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

5 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 23, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); D-Box

The Expendables pounds its way onto blu-ray with this AVC encoded transfer in 1080p and 2.40:1. The detail caught in skin tones is phenomenal and the colors stylistically cool. Overall, the black tones are solid and vivid in the depth they portray regardless of the location. Yet, the real meat on this disc is the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. This baby will blow the roof off your house and shake the floor with its bass.  It is dynamic and well-keyed with its separation and celebration of sound.



  • Of course, Stallone provides a feature-length commentary and, as usual, his excitement for what he does best – kicking ass – shines through.  His intelligence and passion for filmmaking also comes through which makes for a seriously fascinating and entertaining commentary.

Special Features:

The disc is loaded with some barn-burning supplemental features that really showcases the dedication Stallone and company have for what they do; every bruise, every stitch, every punch is recorded and documented here. Lionsgate and Stallone have really outdone themselves with this release.  Seriously, some legitimately bad-ass material here, complete with a PIP commentary entitled Ultimate Recon Mode.

  • Comic Con 2010 Panel (45 min)
  • Inferno: The Making of 'The Expendables' (90 min)
  • From the Ashes: Post Production (26 min)
  • Gag Reel (5 min)
  • Deleted Scene (45 sec)
  • Marketing Archive