Directed by Stallone, The Expendables (Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and Terry Crews) are a group of elite mercenaries who are hired to assassinate a corrupt military General, Gaza (David Zayas). While doing recon for the mission Barney Ross (Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Statham) happen upon the general’s daughter, Sandra (Giselle Itié), who is involved in the rebel movement to overthrow her father. At first, Barney and Lee do not want to get involved with the political issues of the South American country. Yet when the American, James Munroe (Eric Roberts), funding General Gaza’s coup abducts Sandra, Barney and the rest of The Expendables attempt a rescue mission that they might just cost them their lives.
Featuring an abundance of new and former action starts, The Expendables is a film that delivers on the testosterone. The picture features enough explosions and fight scenes to entertain even the most casual of action fans. This is thanks in part to two well choreographed fight sequences. The first is the David versus Goliath battle between Li and Lundgren. While the other is the all out brawl between Stallone and Steve Austin’s aptly named character Paine. Still, even with these action-packed moments it is tough not to leave the film a bit disappointed.
The primary reason for this is that the overall balance of power is uneven. All of the “big name” action stars are all on one team. The only villains capable of matching them, from a physical standpoint, are Steve Austin and, to a lesser extent, Gary Daniels. Eric Roberts and David Zayas are merely there to bring a little credibility to the film’s acting credentials. While it is widely known that Jean Claude Van Damme turned down a role in the film, there are still a slew of other action starts that could have filled out the villain side nicely. Guys like Billy Blanks, Sammo Hung, and Steven Segal, etc. Frankly they could have made Mickey Rouke a villain as his character really does not do much in the film.
The increased muscle on the villain side would have saved the film, and audiences, from having to endure the Austin/Couture fight scene. Randy Couture has no scene presence in his battle with Steve Austin. It is not only dull, but it also takes the shine off of the fun Stallone/Austin encounter that happens ten minutes earlier. It is not even like this type of film can be redeemed by its acting. The performances are subpar, but what else would you expect from this type of film? The only character that really stood out was Dolph Lundgren’s Gunner Jensen. Lundgren brings the right mix of testosterone and over-the-top acting to keep the first half of the film moving. Although The Expendables barely achieves its goal of being a mindless action flick, I am hoping Stallone makes a sequel to this film. The Expendables really need fight villains their own size in order for the film to truly be the action extravaganza Stallone wants it to be.