Review: The Expendables Packs the Ultimate Adrenaline Shot for Summer

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis team up with even more action stars for an explosive ride

By Peter Paras Aug 13, 2010 1:00 AMTags
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Review in a Hurry: The ultimate fanboy mashup! Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham lead a team of action adventure all stars. Peppered with funny dialogue, epic brawls and supersize explosions, The Expendables is the adrenaline shot the summer of 2010 needs.

Plus, the much buzzed about scene with Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger is only one of the film's many highlights.

The Bigger Picture: Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews (Middle Men), UFC fighter Randy Couture, plus the aforementioned Stallone and Statham are a team of mercenaries paid to rid global hotspots of ruthless dictators by any means necessary. In this installment, our heroes travel to South America to root out evil in the form of Eric Roberts, the dictator of a small island.

Director Stallone (who cowrote the script with David Callaham) knows the real reason to see this movie is the chance to witness some of the biggest action stars of '80s, '90s and '00s mix it up. And the jam-packed 100 minutes allows each member a scene that kills... literally.

Surprisingly, amid all those fatalities is a lot of talking. Even more surprising is that it's really entertaining talking.

Ya see, only the grizzled Rourke can accuse the nearly as grizzled Stallone of not being a real man. Likewise, only Stallone can tell former Rocky IV baddie Lundgren that it's time to lay off the drugs. And only Jet Li can rant on about not getting paid enough, echoing the martial arts star's own real-life squabbling for bigger paychecks.

Turns out these über-macho men are quite diva-like. And that makes their dialogue hilarious and even cooler because, just maybe, these legendary heroes are in on the joke?

The action scenes are spectacular. Seeing this crew dispatch faceless hordes of soldiers is all kinds of hard-R awesome and never gets old.

Speaking of old, the action is explosive but the editing is sometimes too quick—probably to hide the actors' weatheredness. (Like we said, divas.) But for the most part, these aged heroes still look pretty ripped.

Statham is still relatively young (only 37!), so he gets a scene showing off his own moves, taking out a bunch of yuppies on a B-ball court.

The best move of all was pairing him with Sly. They make a great team.

Meanwhile, Eric Roberts has a blast as an evil party of one. Technically, he's got Steve Austin (the Muscle) and Dexter's David Zayas (the Dictator) on team evil too, but they just stand around while Roberts churns out his own brand of deadpan quips.

But does the meeting of the "big three" (Sly, Bruce and Arnie) live up to the hype? If you can accept that a five-minute cameo is all it ever will be, yes. (Set in a church, they are the action gods among us.) Seeing Arnie and Sly trade insults while Willis just stands there befuddled is pretty grin-inducing.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Having so many action icons in one sitting can lead to film geek overload. Like mulling over the numerous missed opportunities: Where's the music montage of Sylvester Stallone training (preferably in Russia)? And why didn't Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal star too?

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