A team of elite, highly-trained mercenaries are sent into South America to overthrow a ruthless cold-blooded dictator. End of plot, beginning of muscles, vein, sweat, explosives, guns, machetes and grim-faced stone-cold killers all rolled into one big deadly Katamari of whatever it was that made the '80s action movies tick. And so Sylvester Stallone's journey of bringing back everything he liked about the '80s (Everything, yes.) continues.
FIST PUNCH IN THE FACE.
The expendables are what would be the entire roll call of muscled tough guys in Hollywood right now. There definitely must have been a gap for a film fueled entirely by testosterone and steroids with a thousand explosions per minute with tough guys saving the day and blowing things up and killing many Spanish speaking people in many different and gory ways. Because this isn't so much a film as a powerful fist into that hole to ensure fan boys do not want.
EXPLOSIONS. MANY EXPLOSIONS.
The problem with the approach of making a fun actioner with a very '80s aesthetic is that the filmmaking tends to be fairly standard. As in run of the mill. Sure, things blow up a lot and everything, but there is nothing imaginative or fun about the whole process. Sure, it's fun, but it doesn't bring anything new to the table. It's all things we have seen before, especially if you were born in or before the early '80s.
BOOM. FIRE, DEBRIS, FLYING HENCHMEN.
In fact your entire experience of the film will be coloured by how much you are a fan of the hand-crafted action of the '80s as opposed to the ultra-glossy action of the 2000s. That doesn't mean that this is the perfect action film for certain people. It isn't even the perfect throwback to those kinds of films. For one, there's plenty of emotional ground that Stallone insists on covering, which is all wasteful and tedious.
Some of the... oh, excuse me. MANHANDLINGS AND PUNCHINGS.
Yeah, so some of the back stories that we have to sit through are utterly boring, and you ignore them as they go on till the next set of major explosions. While some of the middle stuff is full of Stallone trying to be edgy with his shaky cam and what not, by the time the end comes, he is content with pulling back and letting the fists speak for themselves. This is a great improvement especially as huge men fling their hand muscles at what used to be faces at the beginning of time.
MORE EXPLODING THINGS. MANY SOUTH AMERICANS DIE.
The gun action is mostly very unremarkable, because the gore and the shot-taking are both very muted, but when it comes to punch-ups between huge men, it is exactly the kind of action that huge burly men on the poster promise. Your taste in action films will decide whether you like it, and the score above reflects the average between the two extremes.
FLYING MEAT THINGS MADE OF VEINS AND MUSCLES.
Ultimately this a big solid punch delivered solely for the pleasure of action-starved fan boys, and it gets the job done. It isn't very memorable but it is exhilarating. It isn't the perfect throwback film, but it is cathartic. If the trailer and the poster have left you cold, please don't waste your time. This is exactly what you see on screen, and for those who appreciate what you see on screen, this is the film they made for you.