In need of a summer blockbuster that will put your brain on auto pilot for two hours, have some familiar faces, and put hair on your chest? Well then The Expendables will do the trick for you. This flick is jam-packed with past and present action superstars. I won't even go into their names or resumés because it will just take forever, so just watch the trailers or look at the poster if you've been living under a rock this summer. With testosterone being a key ingredient for any action movie, writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone invited only the manliest of men to be in his bloody action flick. Even the guys who were unable to be a main character, because of shooting schedules, still made time to squeeze in a cameo.
Now as you may expect, there isn't much storyline here, but it makes up for it with blood, bullets, muscles, and classic one-liners. But if you're interested, the main story is a team of mercenaries (aka The Expendables) are hired to overthrow an evil dictator. Stallone tries to keep the plot as simple as possible, but has a couple side stories that aren't necessary to the main plot. Other than Stallone, it's Jason Statham and Jet Li who are the main characters, with the long list of other big name guys as side or smaller characters. You never start to care about any of the smaller characters because they have very little dialogue to work with, compared to how much screen time they have.
Now as far as action and stunts go, this movie is a blast. Stallone, being a big fan of doing it old school, only did about 5% of the film's effects using CGI. That meant the stars doing most of their own stunts. For Statham and Li it isn't a problem at all because in every crazy fight scene they're in, it is them punching and kicking every time. Stallone at 62 (now 64) lead by example doing most of his own stunts, even to the point where he broke his neck during filming, putting him the hospital for three days. All of this is to help sell the movie to everyone thinking they're too old for this film genre. That's the biggest reason why I would recommend this film, because with the egos these stars probably have, none of them wanted to be the guy to say, "can you get the stuntman to do that for me?" Stallone, Statham, and Li steal the show in that they get the coolest action sequences with the gnarlyist deaths. That being said, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture aren't just filler because they all have their moments.
Normally, having so many big names in a summer film like this, a Hollywood studio would push the director into making sure the final cut would get a PG-13 rating. This happened two summers ago with Live Free or Die Hard being the first film in the franchise to not have an R rating so it would be open to the younger viewer and more revenue. Stallone must have put his foot down, because he got his R rating and took full advantage of it -- almost to the point where the movie could have been called The Excessives with some of the over-the-top death scenes. After getting to the movie late and ending up with front row seats, I was glad this flick wasn't in 3D because I may have left the theater covered in blood.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.