THE EXPENDABLES By Gary Murray Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren. Eric Roberts and Jet Li Written by Sylvester Stallone and Dave Callaham Directed by Sylvester Stallone Running time 105 min MPAA Rating R Selig Film Rating Matinee The 1980's was the heyday for action films. Both Arnold and Willis staked claims of being the top action hero, but Sylvester Stallone is the once, still and future king. Not only is he an Oscar winner, but between his Rocky and Rambo flicks, Sly is a billion dollar industry. Though he has had a wide degree of success with some of his other roles and choices, the action flicks he puts on the screen have always been drive-in treasures. With his newest flick The Expendables, he should win another group of young action junkies. Our little drama opens with a hostage situation on an oil tanker. Barney Ross (Sylvester) and his crew are contract mercenaries who are tasked to save a group of hostages. After the rescue, it becomes apparent that one member needs to cut loose. The entire sequence feels more like the James Bond teaser that opens the adventure. Back in the States, our guys are approached by a a very mysterious man called Church (Bruce Willis). Both Ross and another mercenary (Arnold in a cameo) are offered a job. Of the two, only Ross accepts the mission. The team is to go down to South America and take out General Gaza. Unknown to our heroes, the general is backed by a former CIA agent James Monroe (Eric Roberts) who has gone rogue Ross' team consists of Lee Christmas (Jason Statman) as an expert with knives but not with women. Jet Li is Yin Yang a master of hand to hand combat. Toll Road (Randy Couture) is the man with the detonation devices and Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) is the sniper on the edge. It has a Dirty Dozen feel, with men not being whole but their lacking is compensated by another. Of course, the flick is peppered with different women who help push the actions of the men. This is a very macho man's world with the gals being a small but driving force. The film is structured very simply. We get the action set-up, meet the gang, get the mission, find out the mission isn't as cut and dry as first thought, and finally the massacre of all the bad guys. What a blood bath it turns out to be. The Expendables makes the last Rambo flick look like a Care Bears movie. We get metric tons of decaying, bullet-riddled flesh with every appendage rolling at some point in the melee. At one time, Sylvester Stallone was a writing wonder boy. It seems that fame and fortune have tainted his the more literary aspects of his talents but he can still spin an exciting yarn. It is as a director that Sly shows that he still has it. He gives us action piece after action piece with little chance to catch ones breath. It almost feels as if this were his last gasp at being able to put something on the screen and he want to throw every bit from his directors toolbox at the screen. We get so many earth shattering explosions upon explosions that the screen becomes awash in degrees of red and yellow. He also gives his giant cast of action heroes moments to shine and Dolph Lundgren is granted the widest berth of acting prowess. With so many different performers, someone has to get the short stick on screen time. Those short sticks are given to Mickey Rourke and Jet Li. The former is almost a cameo performance and the latter just isn't given much to do other than show off a few quick moves here and there. Arnold and Bruce are just in one scene, both looking tickled pink to be in a single scene with Sly Stallone. Watching this little bit makes one realize how much Hollywood and the audience misses the Terminator Governor. The Expendables is just a simple action flick, just like those of decades past. It wants nothing more than to entertain and does so to a stellar degree. This is a drive-in style of entertainment and is just a popcorn-chewing, grind-house, head-rolling, blood-churning action chunk of fun. Nothing to be taken seriously but it is a gas to watch it spill across the screen.

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