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Review The Expendables(2010): For the concept alone this should be praised even when it's far from a masterpiece!

genre: action, adventure







The Expendables basically is a modern version of The Dirty Dozen but where the team now consists of heroes who once were or still are stars in the action genre. Specifically the old school action where actors were more hands on than nowadays. Wikipedia says: "The film series itself was created to pay homage to the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and 90s and also pays gratitude to the action stars of those decades, as well as more recent stars in action." For that concept alone Stallone deserves praise. Naturally with such ambition you would hope that the action flick would turn out ok. And in my opinion it does more than ok. It's quite good. A classic masterpiece? No, far from it. But it is a title that will satisfy your need for some good old action and violence if you crave that sort of thing.

One thing you will have to understand is that back in the Eighties and Nineties the action genre was huge. Every week an action title would come out. A genre I myself never could get enough of. But then after those two decades another type of action films started to become more popular. Films where the emphasis lies on beautiful effects and grand spectacle. The bigger the better. Often made with CGI since that is what makes everything possible now. Nothing wrong with this if not for the fact that all those old school action films stopped being made. Or with much lesser quality than we were used to. It left a big gap for action fans like me. Say what you want about those old school action films. Most of them still hold up today. And this is not only nostalgia speaking. They were better. Stars like Stallone and Schwarzenegger always made it worth your while. Their characters were interesting and more importantly you cared for them. Of course most of the stories were very simple and basic. But as long as it provided a motivation for the characters it was all you needed. Sometimes you didn't even need story and they managed to build around a whole movie on charisma of the stars alone. Next to that the action in general was top notch and exciting. You could tell a lot of hard work and thought went into producing them. That kind of thing is something you will notice immediately.

Enter Stallone who probably realized that there is a gap he could fill and simply started up this project for which I am very grateful. Does this mean I can't be critical? Of course I can. The story while a little more serious in tone compared to the later parts is very minimal. Characterization also probably should and could have been done better. He should have given each character a little introduction where we get to know about who they are and where they come from and what makes them so special. My guess is that Stallone assumes we already know since we have seen them in action in their own movies. But it could not have hurt for him to remind us of what they are capable of. However he makes that up by the way the team members interact with each other. Also very basic and minimal but enough to make us care for them and know that they are badass. Which BTW Stallone improved on in the later parts since he made them even bigger. The action itself is brutal, violent and fantastic. Is it perfect? No! I am not a fan of quick cuts. And Stallone goes overboard with those a little too much. These stars perform most of their stunts themselves so it wasn't really necessary to use them. But some of them are older and probably a lot slower so he perhaps thought it would be best to cover that up. I do believe that in the later parts the quick cuts are gone. At least as far as I can recall.

So overall The Expendables is far from a masterpiece. But it is the one that brought back old school action in a time it was very much needed. And for that I am very grateful.





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