The Expendables are an elite group of mercenaries, running around to save hostages like a beefed-up A-Team, with wisecracks to match, led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and Yin Yang (Jet Li).
This is shown in the opening scene when they’re up against a group of Somali pirates holding people hostage. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the pirates will lose and in bloody style. However, at the end of it, Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) gets a little too overzealous and wants to hang a pirate so they give him his P45 and send him away.
A new assignment comes from a Mr Church (Bruce Willis), but after the film’s lead attends, one more man needs to come to the meeting. The other attendee is Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), someone Barney used to work with but has since fallen out. Church tells them there are resources on the island of Vilena, in the Gulf, that his associates are very interested in. However, General Garza (David Zayas, aka Angel from Dexter, or ‘Onng-hell’ as Maria keeps calling him) has stormed in and otherthrown the government who used to run it. At this point, Trench backs out of the job and Ross makes a wisecrack about him which I’ll leave to you enjoy as it really tickled me, and that’s Arnie’s cameo done for this movie.
James Munroe (Eric Roberts) is the evil businessman baddie who bankrolls Garza’s operation in order to get the money from the lucrative drugs market, with Paine (Steve Austin) as his henchman. A subtle blend of Inception and Memento this is not.
Completing the cast of people I’ve heard of, Mickey Rourke plays a tattooist called Tool, who looks set to take Gunner’s place in the team, but actually ends up doing very little and turns up in only 2 or 3 brief scenes. Also making a brief appearance is Charisma Carpenter as Statham’s love-interest, Lacy. However, her scenes could easily have been cut out and you really wouldn’t have missed a thing.
Medal for the stupidest scene Award: There’s an incredibly bizarre beat-em-up sequence with Stallone and Statham defeating about 10 men, with only a gun and a knife, despite the fact the baddies have all got automatic rifles and plenty of time to fire of a shot – which none of them do.
Overall, this is rather a disappointment compared to what I expected. All the big names are here, but rather than group them up to go kicking up a stink every minute of the movie, there’s so many missed opportunities to throw in wisecracks or simply make use of the cast. I saw the opening scene, with the Somali pirates, before I watched this and was hoping for 2 hours of that, but no. There’s so much plodding, or some sub-standard ‘action’ along the way.
Only watch this if you really MUST see everyone who’s ever been in an action film cobbled together for a group outing.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture is sharp and detailed with no problems whatsoever, allowing you to see every last, gross sinewy twist in Stallone’s forehead, arms and everything else (shudder). Stallone makes fairly good use of the widescreen frame a lot of the time so it makes for pleasing viewing. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
As for the sound, this is in 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio, or DTS 5.1 for those, like me, without the full technical dohickey. Dialogue (except for Stallone’s mumblings) and ambience/score are fine, while gunfire and explosions are fantastic and constant when things kick off big time, generally in the final act.
The extras are as follows:
- BonusView: The Expendables – Ultimate Recon Mode: Stallone talks about the film with picture-in-picture mode, rather like an audio commentary but with some extra content from time to time. Perhaps worth it if you really want to see more about it. There’s around 25 segments to this.
- From the ashes: Post Production documentary (26:36): Behind-the-scenes comments and chat, amongst the clips, from cast and crew including Stallone. There’s also a look at a test screening, the music score, the sound editing and a press screening for the movie.
- Gag reel (5:03): Does what it says on the tin.
- Deleted Scene (0:45): Well, an alternate take on a piece in the opening scene. I’d stick with the original.
- Promo Gallery (13:51): The theatrical trailer in 2.35:1 and DD5.1 sound (1:06), two TV spots (around 15 and 30 seconds, respectively) and three posters.
- Audio commentary: with director Sylvester Stallone.
- D-Box: Yes, until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t heard of it either, but according to this D-Box corporate video , the idea is that as well as experiencing top-notch audio and visual effects, you’ll also get motion effects – rather like a souped-up La-z-boy chair. In short – I. WANT. ONE. NOW! However, it appears the only one you can physically buy at the moment is a computer game racing chair that costs a penny under £13,000.
- BD Touch: It seems if you have a mobile phone on which you can install the BD Touch app, you can control the disc in question from your phone. How pointless.
- Meta Menu: Some other nonsense way to control the disc from your phone. What gives with all this nonsense that no-one asked for?
- LG Live: It states this will automatically update your Twitter and Facebook statuses when you’re watching an LG Live Blu-ray movie. Hmm… is it really worth giving them your personal details for *that*? No.
The menu mixes clips of film with a short piece of the theme.
There are subtitles in English only and the chaptering really isn’t enough with a mere 16 over the 103-minute running time.
Running time: 103 minutes
Cat no: LGB94293
Released: Dec 2010
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Producers: Avi Lerner, Kevin King Templeton and John Thompson
Screenplay: David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone
Music: Brian Tyler
Barney Ross: Sylvester Stallone
Lee Christmas: Jason Statham
Yin Yang: Jet Li
Gunner Jensen: Dolph Lundgren
James Munroe: Eric Roberts
Toll Road: Randy Couture
Paine: Steve Austin
General Garza: David Zayas
Sandra: Giselle Itié
Lacy: Charisma Carpenter
The Brit: Gary Daniels
Hale Caesar: Terry Crews
Tool: Mickey Rourke
Cheyenne: Lauren Jones
Trench: Arnold Schwarzenegger (uncredited)
Mr Church: Bruce Willis (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.