On DVD: The Expendables

There are very few movies out there that will amp you up like “The Expendables.” Maybe not so much for the ladies, but Sylvester Stallone’s battle royal of action stars and other renowned muscle men from the last three decades will convince almost every man that lifting weights, eating a steak and potatoes dinner and cruising about looking to kick some ass is a great idea for the immediate future.

But what “The Expendables” possesses in pure testosterone it lacks in just about everything else. The plot and subplots are entirely, well, expendable.

Including cameos from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, the cast Stallone assembles is simply grunt-tastic, maybe minus the absence of a Jean Claude Van Damme. Combining Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren among others makes the film impressive enough. If you think all those names plus others smells of gimmick and nothing else, you’re wrong. Seeing these guys together is most if not all the magic of the film.

Stallone leads this team of war vets and other skilled fighters turned assassins for hire who possess deadly gun and knife accuracy as well as fist-fighting skills. They take a job in Venezuela to depose a dictator whose the puppet of an ex-CIA man. There are a few other details, but again, pointless as far as what this movie aims to do. Successfully, however, does this allow for the explosions to commence.

Every gun shot, every fiery blast, every punch and every knife jammed through some dude’s throat (and that happens several more times than you’d think) gets amplified both visually and through sound effects. The action never loses excitement or intensity and that alone keeps “The Expendables” from journeying into simply bad movie territory. Stallone clearly understands that all can be forgiven (or we can at least be distracted long enough) when things go boom in creative ways. Stallone and Statham’s sea plane escape and subsequent revenge on the Venezuelans on the dock makes for one of the most enjoyable action sequences of the year.

It’s amazing as an action-lover how quickly you can forget pointless cameos, unfunny attempts at levity and cliché action movie plot devices. One might find it easier to chastise Stallone for making a film that must pummel its audience into submission with gunfire and explosions, but I say success where most others fail; half the films of this ilk use the same technique and don’t manage to keep critics from seeing through the fiery guise. “The Expendables,” for the most part, does wow its audience enough to find enjoyment where there otherwise would be repetitiveness.

3/5 Stars

The Expendables
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Written by David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren


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