Reviews

The Expendables

2

Stallone trundles out the big guns...

The Expendables

The Expendables review - Talk about nostalgia porn. A teenage boy’s wet dream of a movie – if that teenage boy now has thinning hair and a thickening trunk – The Expendables sadly fires blanks.

Anyone who’s seen Rambos II, III or IV won’t be surprised to see Sly Stallone again wading overseas (at least this time his destination is fictional – the South American island of Vilena) to dispense a little America, Fuck Yeah! justice.

This time, though, he’s not alone in his ruthless mission, seeking to overthrow ex-CIA operative Eric Roberts’ eeevil dictatorship with the help of Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Jet Li. Just call ’em the A-verage Team: no defined characteristics, no fleshed out backstory, no chemistry.

With this much muscle on board, there’s little room to flex: Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger make more impact in two-minute cameos than anyone else musters throughout.

The Smirk is the mysterious suit who hires Stallone’s meatheads; The Oak is a rival mercenary who only turns up at all to trade body-blow banter with Sly.

It’s hardly Al and Bob in the coffee shop but watching these ’80s box office nemeses cross (pork) swords induces real shivers. Willis, meanwhile, wryly cuts through their homoerotic alpha-male grappling with a penetrating put-down: “Why don’t you just suck each other’s dicks?”

Sadly, the rest of the grunting, sweating script lacks such, er, élan, and what lunk-headed dialogue is on the page is delivered flatly. Again, no one’s expecting De Niro-Pacino, but the thunderous ineptitude on show makes this cast’s straight-to-DVD output of late look suddenly robust.

Then there’s Stallone’s unusually ham-fisted direction, the stiff-jointed action sequences and mucky visuals so black and blue they resemble a beaten bruiser wincing in the shadows. If DoP Jeffrey Kimball is trying to mimic the palette of ’80s pec-pics, he should take another look at the pulp poetry of First Blood and The Terminator…

The Expendables could have played it tongue-in-cheek or elegiac. The first would have made it a lot more fun, the second could have fashioned The Wild Bunch of the action genre, as suggested by the scene in which Mickey Rourke’s ex-Expendable coughs up a haunting anecdote.

Instead we have a lumbering, stumbling actioner full of creaks and groans – most of them coming from the audience.
 

Verdict:

Arnie, Sly and Bruce cut hard-edged, iconic silhouettes but don’t expect depth , shading or, indeed, a great deal of entertainment. Don’t you hate it when a plan falls apart?

Film Details

User Reviews

    • blindfold11

      Aug 9th 2010, 14:33

      Dear Total Film, please send an action movie lover to review cheesey action films. I think 2 stars is a bit harsh. Really open minded action lovers would probably give it 4 - ordinary action lovers at least a 3. there is plenty of fun to be had here and this film is not pretendning to be anything other than it is. PS - i don't like the glossy new look of the mag. Starting to look like a gossip mag, and not like the cool mag that started off way back in issue 1!!! Someone cgot worried about Empire too much and decided they needed to go too over commercial to beat them. You just lost a reader here as a result. Go find your balls.

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    • torilou81

      Aug 13th 2010, 23:41

      4

      WTF Total Film!? Do you people not understand that not all movies are supposed to change your life or further the medium, some are sent just to entertain you and this movie does that to the max. If you people are so dead inside that you cant even sit back relax and enjoy these kind of movies then why even bother to review them. This has just ensured that i will no longer subscribe to your magazine, i really am bored of your pretentious b******t.

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Aug 16th 2010, 12:28

      4

      I have to admit I agree with the two posts above. I've always loved your mag and the fact that your reviews were always more on a level with the people reading them than anything those stuck-up miserable tw*ts over at Empire had to offer. But i'm pretty disappointed to read a review like this and then find out that Empire has given it 3 stars!!? For them to understand and rate a Stallone Action film more clearly than yourselves has sadly shown how much your mag has changed over the years. To compare it to Rambo sequels and curse it for being set 'overseas' is pathetic - we all knew this from the trailer but it didn't dampen our excitement at all. Everybody knows the plan with a film like this - 'Stallone and his hard mates go to some hot sweaty foreign country to kill an evil bad guy and blow lots of sh*t up'....and that's IT!! That's even how Stallone decribed the film when he rang up Van Damme and asked him to be in it!! "Hey come abroad with all the guys and blow some sh*t up - it'll be fun!" Why such a negative review about a film that does exactly that from a magazine that will no doubt be including this in some kind of 'Top 50 coolest movies' or 'Top 30 coolest casts' feature in 10 years from now is beyond me. I can't say i'm p!ssed off enough about this review to stop reading your mag (mainly because i stopped buying Empire years ago so there's not much else left) but you seriously need to try and get some fun back into your magazine again. Maybe it's because some of you have been working there for too long now and you're getting grouchy in your old age? Time for a bunch of younger, cooler reviewers? How about a 'Top 30 people to remake the Total Film office' article maybe??

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    • madrox

      Aug 16th 2010, 14:54

      3

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    • parkerwest5179

      Aug 16th 2010, 23:03

      I am so sick of TF (and Empire) film reviews. It seems like pretty much the main reason that the film was so eagerly anticipated is now the chief reason for this pretty poor review. "No defined characteristics, no fleshed out backstory, no chemistry" Who would have guessed? The script isn't brilliant! What a shock. With all of the pre release talk of this being a proper throw back to the big, fun, dumb action flicks of the 80s, I am a bit surprised at the disappointment that has greeted the arrival of what everyone expected in the first place. Perhaps the review might have been a little better if the film was more 'worthy', made more knowing cultural refernces, or was directed by one of your favourites (this one will guarantee you a four star review, even if your film has an ice skating giant monkey in it)? You know what? There's only one review that counts anyway. Go and see it and decide for yourself

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    • garethjnash

      Aug 17th 2010, 15:03

      Total Film used to be great. Now it it's not even average. It's not only this review, I have been thinking this for a while now, but hoped this bad patch would blow over. It has not. I would never have said this a few years ago, but: Empire is better!!

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Aug 18th 2010, 10:10

      Ha and then today we're treated to a whole feature '18 possible plots for the Expendables 2' ha ha! If this is only a 2 star film, why waste time creating a feature like this??! Films that you guys rate as 2 stars I normally don't even bother watching - unless I catch it on TV late one night a few years down the line, yet here you are writing a review that says how cr*p it is but want us to read through an article posing 18 sequel ideas??! I haven't got time like this to waste for goodness sake, I have to get out there and find myself a new Movie Magazine to read!!! Just shows how much of a state the Total Film office is in if you ask me. Shame on you for letting your standards drop so low!

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    • ThrashGordon

      Aug 18th 2010, 11:45

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avXsM2n2oqg

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    • amalthea

      Aug 19th 2010, 10:53

      I actually agree. And I happen to love big, fun, dumb 80s action flicks. But this film seemed to completely miss the point of everything that made those films brilliant. It couldn't even manage cheesy dialogue, the 'quips' were just plain stupid. I actually fell asleep. And I'd been looking forward to it for ages. No sequel, please.

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    • Hadouken76

      Aug 19th 2010, 15:52

      I prefer Sight and Sounds review of this film: "I sh*t pants with glee until they fell out of my trouser legs like hot chocolate muffins!"

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    • Andy85

      Aug 20th 2010, 0:02

      What a pile of s**te review by someone who is clearly stuck up their own a**e. This film did exactly what it said on the tin, the fight scenes were brutal, the chemistry between the leads was very believable and big respect to Jet Li for literally ripping the p**s out of himself for the whole film. What's the matter TF, Stallone didn't pay you enough on the side to right an honest review beause you clearly have a chip on your shoulder. I couldn't have wanted more out of this film because it did everything I expected it to do. 'Creeks and groans' from the audience???? You clearly weren't in my cinema, a gut wrenching 'ooh' every time there was a bone sticking out of someones arm or hand then head severed in one swift movement. Next time get it right!!

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    • BruceShark

      Aug 20th 2010, 0:43

      Total Film you've got it wrong. This film doesn't even deserve two stars. It doesn't deserve one. I love action films, mostly the ones I grew up with from the 80's. So with Stallone proclaiming this was a film made for the people who loved 80's action I was expecting something special. Instead he delivers a film with no plot, no chemistry, bad dialogue (welcome to mumble central) and action set pieces that are boring. This isn't a homage to 80's action. This is a spoof. 80's action films were never like this. They were fun, enjoyable romps with decent one-liners and another of a storyline to make you actually like the characters. This has nothing but cliche upon cliche. And it just doesn't work. It's incoherent and dumb. I know it's a film that shouldn't be judged to much on it's editing, it's sound it's blah blah blah, because it's ment to be mindless fun. It isn't. It's just boring. It's a shame because Stallone has done well recently with the last Rocky & Rambo films. Both decent movies. This however proves that sadly without those two names headlining a movie, Stallone just doesn't have it anymore. It's a sad state of affairs when one of the main action stars of the 80's can't even remember how to make a 80's action movie.

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    • FoldsFive

      Aug 20th 2010, 14:06

      Total film, here's my recommendation. Go to metacritic and take the user reviews from there, divide the percentage there by 20 which should translate (kind of) neatly into a five star mark. Remove the text from reviews, because nobody reads that. You can then just release a monthly pamphlet - obviously you'll need a couple of adverts there still to pay for it. This way you can neatly avoid any of this "I liked this film and you didn't. I'm cancelling my subscription" outcry. Alternatively, keep up your excellent standards and don't be afraid to let reviewers be honest. I agree with BruceShark above in that I'm surprised it was even worthy of two stars; it's a dreadful pile of tosh cobbled together as a flimsy excuse to get the cast together. I love stupid action films but there comes a stage when they're just TOO stupid.

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    • Barney1

      Aug 23rd 2010, 13:27

      5

      TF needs new staff, no wonder your sales are down....you give a money waster like Scott Pilgrim 4 stars and EXPENDABLES 2?? What made the most from it's audience...surely Sly was the crowd pleaser and still blowing s**t up strong!!!! Don't discrimate just because i's a d******s action film with no soul...surely that's the point that you have missed!!! b*****ds

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    • Barney1

      Aug 23rd 2010, 13:28

      5

      TF Go see the film and stop masterbating over Edgar's turkey...free basing dick wads!

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    • metalgatesolid

      Aug 24th 2010, 22:21

      4

      Youve done it now Total Film. I agree with alot of the previous posts...What were you expecting? The Wild Bunch apparently!!! This was never going to be a Wild Bunch, Aliens or any other masterpiece of characterision, this was always going to be violent, dumb and very loud. And it was. Clear your heads, switch off your brains. Dont compare it to anything else and go and watch an 80s actioner with modern twists. Shame on you Total Film.

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    • ppdoone

      Aug 26th 2010, 13:50

      4

      I loved this movie. What a great throw-back to 80's style action, humour, effects with little CG. Sure, the dialogue is corny and after all these years Stallone still needs subtitles but why does every movie have to blow our minds. I can see why Total Film only gave it 2 Stars after the fiasco that was their ratings, both theatrical and then later DVD, of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Bettter to play it safe and follow RT? Bring on Expendables 2, I say.

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    • Igrayne

      Sep 1st 2010, 22:22

      I have also cancelled my subscription, I find Total Film to be too commercial and mainstream now, it is almost like they are a combination of Empire's b***h and dogs being fed by linear stars like Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie. The Expendables was four stars and before you attempt to wave your pretentious ego at me my all time best films are Vertigo and Heat. I have a great desire and knowledge of real film and have worked for a film company as a writer. You gave "Salt" four stars and were positive with your description of Transformers 2? Those films were bloody appalling you fools. It seems when there is a bimbo four stars is warranted but when there are a collection of classic legends two is sufficient. You are rude, talentless, sold out children who know as much about reviewing films as I do about having dinner with Luke Skywalker, t***s.

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    • Igrayne

      Sep 1st 2010, 22:25

      4

      About time two actions films that do not dance around the bush, no bimbo getting in the way, no unnecessary romance (although that is a classic cliche too Sly) and excellent action and excitement, a thank you to the makers of The A-Team and The Expendables, films for men not whining little pedestal merchants.

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    • connoisseur

      Sep 6th 2010, 4:42

      1

      This movie is pure landfill. Stallone and Rourke's faces have been cut up so badly, not only do they look alike but they both look like Ivana Trump! The action was ok but it doesn't make up for a b-movie storyline and cliche after cliche. Statham and Li looked embarrassed and the others were too thick to care.

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    • kondomuser

      Sep 8th 2010, 23:39

      4

      Yeah TF is s**t nowadays everything is ...This movie is the best action movie in 2010.It is a little of beat in pace and the story is s**t butt i see no other movie that has even a shred of action like this.And i mean that testosterone tattoo wearing ho-erotic muscular bad-a*s one liner type .Not the that gay touchy-filly c**p like Twilight or Spider-man which actually pass as action flicks these days .No new actors have a bit of charisma of a Stallone or Schwarzenegger.The only one near that is Jason Statham and he is in the movie.Id wach those old geezers before Mat Damon or Orlando Bloom any day.I'm all for sequel and i would love to see Steven Seagal and Van Dame in it.And also Randy Couture Terry Crews not needed xaxaxa Kill em off and give more time for Dolph Lundgren and Lee.

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    • OnScreen

      Sep 9th 2010, 12:26

      1

      I have to agree with TF on this one. The film sucked, it wasn't everything we hoped it would be. It goes to show that even with a bunch of well known action stars in the same film, it's not enough to make it exhilarating. Here is our full review: http://zoopy.com/q/503f

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    • 84jensiboi

      Sep 18th 2010, 6:19

      2

      It wasn't a good action film, I thought this film could have been released by WWE pictures it was that bad. I wasn't expecting award winning scripts from Sly here, but I cringed for some lines and died a little for others. For the cast that was assembled for the Expendables, I was hugely disappointed having watched it.

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    • replicarolex

      Sep 21st 2010, 3:28

      5

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      Sep 21st 2010, 3:29

      5

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    • hulk68

      Sep 22nd 2010, 11:17

      1

      Its only enjoyable at the begining. It all crumbles afterwards. totally forgetable movie, and the action secens save few are bad. It might have done better in the hands of a more exprienced director.

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    • ChrisWootton

      Jan 12th 2011, 13:27

      1

      Quite simply one of the worst films of ALL TIME. It did make me laugh though when Stallone attempts running.. He really should give it up now.. its worth buying the dvd though just to watch him fall over

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    • FBJThomas

      May 30th 2011, 10:40

      4

      I enjoyed this awesome bad-a*s action film as a pop-corn flick the day it came out, not to say it didn't have sense and twists because it did. this film hits hard and is one of the better Stallone actioners out there. he was 62 when he filmed this and damn does he make the rest of the cast look like pussies, bring on the second film!

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