Film & TV

"The Expendables" Review: Sly and the Family Stallone Get Nostalgic for Their Legacy of Brutality

If the money's right, we don't care where the job is." So explains the leader of hired-gun task force The Expendables, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone). This credo lands Ross and his team (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews in "The Carl Weathers Memorial Role") in the Gulf of Aden as our story begins. Somali pirates staging a videotaped decapitation are pinned down by dancing laser sights — and soon, the baddies are ripped apart. A human trunk splats against the wall, and star/director/co-screenwriter Stallone slaps his cards on the table. Tipped by the presence of Rocky IV nemesis Lundgren and cameo favors called in from Planet Hollywood, The Expendables is a throwback to '80s run-and-gun action, when Hollywood gym rats made boffo box office depopulating Third World countries. Pirates liquidated, the Expendables' next mission concerns the fate of the South American nation of Vilena, where Generalissimo Garza grinds the populace beneath his iron heel. Garza is torn between his imperialist backers (Eric Roberts and bodyguard "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) and his idealistic daughter. As in Stallone's last Rambo, where a good-hearted Christian woman resurrected John Rambo's wrath to the woe of the Burmese junta, the daughter's vague hope gives the Expendables a purpose. Though Expendables does not have Rambo's... let us call it focus, it tries manfully to top that film's kill-'em-all climax. If The Expendables is no classic, for about 20 minutes, it blowed up real good.

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Nick Pinkerton
Contact: Nick Pinkerton