The Expendables is an action movie like an orange is a fruit. The advertisements gave no false impression as to the premise of this movie. It’s all action all the time. The story follows a band of mercenaries called the Expendables as they embark on a mission to kill an evil warlord and his ex-CIA buddy who are causing trouble in a made-up South American country and kill everyone they meet along the way. The mercenaries work out of their secret base, a tattoo parlor/motorcycle shop where they can swap manly war stories between missions and hook up with random women. And of course there’s a woman involved. Stallone gets a pseudo-love interest to chase around the South American country for no adequately explained reason.
Several well-known action movie heroes make cameo appearances in The Expendables. Aside from the main character duo of Sylvester Stallone from the Rocky series and Jason Statham from the Transporter movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, and Bruce Willis help fill out this action packed film. Eric Roberts and Steve Austin help fill out the bad guy seats in the film, they themselves making an interesting comparison between brains and brawn. Charisma Carpenter, best known for her role as Cordelia Chase in the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, and Giselle Itie’, a South American actress, round off as the cast’s resident women.
If a person were to go into The Expendables expecting a plot they will be sorely disappointed. Some of the main characters don’t even get names, and the small semblance of the plot drifts away during the last 45 minutes of the movie when it breaks down into a series of fight scenes and explosions. The fight scenes are quite varied though, switching from guns to bigger guns to knives to bigger knives then finally to straight grenades into, literally, pools of gasoline.
The writers of The Expendables seem to be well aware of its lack of plot though and seem to be fine with it. They fully intended for this film to be almost a satire on action films themselves. The characters are constantly being thrown into situations where they have to resort to some sort of incredible action sequence in order to survive to the next scene. Between airplane dog fighting with napalm and a car chase scene in a decked out truck, the movie seems to be going through a checklist of action movie must-haves. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the writers sitting down with a box set of Rambo DVDs and making notes as to what scenes need to make it into The Expendables. This really wouldn’t be surprising since Sylvester Stallone was one of the writers.
So for an action movie, The Expendables was an action packed extravaganza with every element that makes an action movie exciting.