From the moment I saw the first preview for The Expendables (2010), I knew that this was going to be one of those series I either loved or hated. The idea behind this film (and its sequels) is that all the great action stars of the last 30 years are brought together in one big unit of “expendables” (i.e. mercenaries that take jobs most would consider suicide missions, but they live for the thrill).
This crew (at various times) includes:
Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth (second film only), Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, and oh yea Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford have shown up as well (not to mention Chuck Norris himself). And Mickey Rourke as well. These films are about as loaded as they come in terms of action star power. And these are just the “good guys”
The BAD guys have included: Eric Roberts (first film), Jean-Claude Van Damme (second film), Mel Gibson (third film, and he pulls it off very well), and also Steve Austin (first film).
So, like I said before, LOADS of star power. And yet, I was certain that I would most likely NOT like these films because the previews gave the impression they were ALL shooting and fighting, not a whole lot of plot. And while I was correct on the first point (oh boy was I ever correct), I was dead wrong on the latter point. Because there is plot to be had, lots of plot, GOOD plot. With some variations in each telling, the plot generally runs thus: there’s a dangerous guy that needs to be taken out using less-than-conventional needs. The Expendables agree to take the job, there’s a plot twist that makes it imperative this guy is taken out (i.e. killed brutally) and it’s a crazy action fest interspersed with male bonding, funny quips and the questionable morality of what they’re doing (I’m sure that’s an oversimplification though).
I’d gotten curious about these films after seeing that The Expendables 3 was on Hulu, so I began to look up clips of the other films, to get an idea of what this was all about. I was hooked almost straight away. I have this thing for ensemble casts and seeing all these stars together in the same place *gleeful shudder* I just LOVE it!! My favorite character by far is Lee Christmas, played by Jason Statham. Would you believe this is the first Statham movie I’ve EVER seen? If he’s this good in all his other films, I have some serious catching up to do!
The only film I’ve seen in full is The Expendables 3 and I loved it! Without giving too much away, a lot of the film’s conflict is between the original Expendables team and a group of “youngsters” (relatively speaking) recruited by Barney Ross (Stallone’s character) to pull a very dangerous job.
I was so pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this film. The action was more than a little bloody in places, but it was still good.
Final verdict: if you need to spend a couple hours watching a whole lot of action violence, The Expendables has three films to choose from (with a fourth on the way)