Was this film more of a who’s who among action stars, or a true ensemble action movie focused more on plot than its actors? The new war film ‘The Expendables,’ co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, was designed by its studio Lionsgate to pay tribute to action movies of the 1980s and ’90s and the decades’ veteran actors. Featuring such popular actors as Stallone, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, as well as several newcomers, including Jason Statham and former WWE wrester Steve Austin, Lionsgate seemed to want to push one last action-packed, star-filled movie before the end of the summer season.
During the weeks leading up to its August 13 release, Lionsgate seemed like it lacked faith in Stallone’s writing and directing abilities, as it focused more on the star-filled cast than the plotline of ‘The Expendables.’ While many people do see movies based on the actors in them, the studio didn’t seem like it believed ‘The Expendables’ could appeal to a wide audience with its plot-line alone. But Stallone was actually able to successfully pay tribute to his ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rambo’ days by showing he could truly construct and carry-out a cohesive plotline.
The movie follows Barney Ross (played by Stallone), the leader of the Expendables, a team of highly-trained mercenaries. Accompanied by Lee Christmas (portrayed by Statham), a former Special Air Service-soldier; ‘Yin Yang’ (played by Li), a Chinese martial arts expert; Hale Caesar (portrayed by Terry Crews), a heavy weapons specialist; and Toll Road (played by Randy Couture), a demolitions expert, the team is sent to overthrow General Garza (played by David Zavas), a dictator in South America.
Once they accept the mission, The Expendables realize Garza is in business with a rogue CIA agent, James Monroe (portrayed by Eric Roberts). Not only must the team overthrow Garza, they must also defeat Monroe.
Unlike most action movies, Stallone and his co-writer Dave Callaham surprisingly gave ‘The Expandables’ a detailed plotline and truly developed its characters. While there was an assortment of different characters in the movie, each was given at least a little bit of a back-story. The actors therefore were able to connect to their characters.
Out of all the actors, Statham was the most memorable, however. With Christmas as Ross’ right-hand man, Statham seemed to be the right choice for the role. As with his character, Statham seemed ready and willing to take direction from Stallone. It seemed as though Stallone was handing Statham the ropes both on-screen and off. With his experience with other action movies, including the ‘Crank’ and ‘The Transporter’ series and ‘Death Race,’ Statham seems to be the logical choice to be the next big action star.
While the plot wasn’t as intriguing and carefully conceived as this summer’s earlier action hit ‘Inception,’ ‘The Expendables’ was more carefully planned than was expected. The movie certainly acts as the passing of the reigns of the action genre from the country’s favorite actors of the last generation to the upcoming, new actors of this generation. ‘The Expendables’ definitely gives the summer season one last blast. While the movie may not earn back its entire $80 million at the American box office during its theatrical run, audiences will definitely be on the edge of their seats, wanting more, given its R rating for strong action, bloody violence and language.
Written by: Karen Benardello