The Expendables

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Sylvester Stallone

Starring

Jason Statham Mickey Rourke Sylvester Stallone

Anticipation.

Sly. Arnie. Willis. Stath. 'Nuff said.

Enjoyment.

What it delivers in body count The Expendables lacks in dignity.

In Retrospect.

The worst action film of the year, and that's saying something.

Saving the world and getting the girl might still be all in day’s work, but it now comes at a price: dignity.

There’s something inevitably unsatisfying about The Expendables. It’s not that it totally disappoints: anyone who expected this has-been muscle-clad ensemble to deliver a top-notch action flick would have been seriously misguided.

The sad truth is that not one of these former champs has the starch to go 12 rounds at this level anymore (apart from Jason Statham, who is as bona-fide as they come). The camaraderie is strong and the minds are willing, but the bodies lack the majesty that made these men stars.

As writer, director and head badass, Sylvester Stallone is predictably top dog here, but with an unhealthy amount of testosterone on show he never affords himself enough room to breathe. Along with the rest of his mercenary crew, Sly is suffocated by an excess of shouty dialogue, crappy CGI and saggy muscles. Worse still, for every grizzly dismembering and ambitious set piece explosion, an unflattering slow-mo cutaway or a cringing cameo undermines The Expendables as an old-fashioned, no-nonsense action thriller.

On their mission to topple a South American dictator, Sly, Dolph, Stath and the gang do enough to keep action fans hollering, but as the smoke clears all that remains is an unsettling reality check. Are these ponderous jesters really the last bastions of the golden age of the action hero? Sadly, it would seem so.

After a dismal summer of sub-par action cinema (take a bow The A-Team and The Losers), it’s a tragedy that some of the best smack-talking, name-taking machismos to have ever swaggered across the silver screen have resorted to such cheap, self-referential gimmickry. Saving the world and getting the girl might still be all in day’s work, but never has it come at such a price.

Published 17 Aug 2010

Anticipation.

Sly. Arnie. Willis. Stath. 'Nuff said.

Enjoyment.

What it delivers in body count The Expendables lacks in dignity.

In Retrospect.

The worst action film of the year, and that's saying something.

Read More

The Expendables 2

By Little White Lies

In the spirit of this gung-ho tale about a militarist old boys network, three reviewers sit down for a chat about The Expendables 2.

review

Bullet to the Head

By Adam Woodward

Slam-bang action icons Walter Hill and Sylvester Stallone buddy up for some muscle-flexing and gunplay.

review

The Wrestler

By Matt Bochenski

A stunning career comeback from Mickey Rourke underpins Darren Aronofsky’s tragic sports drama.

review LWLies Recommends

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design