Film Review: 'The Expendables' Has Stars, Action But Not Much Plot

With a star-studded cast, “The Expendables,” (in theaters everywhere tomorrow, Aug. 13) featuring lead actor and producer Sylvester Stallone and actors Jason Statham and Jet Li, is a film packed with a lot of killing and explosions, but sadly, very little story. Maybe it’s too much to expect complicated characters from a film clearly targeted toward action-lovers. And boy, is there a lot of action in this movie. Gun shooting, Jet Li-style combat and knife stabbings are frequent throughout the movie. If you like excitement, this certainly has it. However, these scenes become less poignant when they seem like random sequences united by a loosely sketched plot, with unconvincing emotion and a love plot that abruptly materializes.

As for Li’s involvement, he gets decent exposure, engaging in one-on-one banter with Stallone that doesn’t always revolve around his ethnicity—something comedic moments in movies often rely on. There is already very little character in the first place among any of the cast, so it is a compliment to Li’s character that he is a more likeable one. His lines don’t sound forced or awkward but have just the right touch of realism and irony, bringing a little laughter to the screen, which is one of the movie’s redeeming qualities. He’s not the only one to make audiences smile though, as there’s a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger, which delighted the Californian audience at the press screening in LA.

Unfortunately, bits of humor cannot salvage the overall impression of the movie. The trailer explains more than film itself about how the team of Expendables came together, and you can expect more questions than answers to pop up in your mind while watching. Unless you’re an admirer of directionless fighting and big things that go boom, it might be better to hold off for the DVD. In my opinion, you will probably walk away a little confused, a little more amused by the witty dialogue, and very entertained by the stars’ demonstrations of kick-ass macho-ism.

Check out the trailer and other bonus clips here from Lionsgate Entertainment: