According to the website Metacritic.com, The Expendables got only a 45 out of 100 on critics reviews. This means absolutely nothing. This means nothing because the film was not made for critics. It was made for the fans of the action films of the past.
The plot is pretty thin with a mercenary group led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) taking a mission to overthrow a South American dictator. The plot does not matter because the film is really about the characters and the stars portraying them. Each one gets his own moment to shine in the film but most of them are under utilized. Stallone and Jason Statham are the main focuses of the film which is the biggest problem with the film.
The audience will no doubt want to see more of the other characters especially Terry Crewe's and Dolph Lundgren's characters, especially Lundgren. Just watch for the warning shot in the opening action sequence. They are relegated to minor rolls in the film but when they are on screen they shine brighter than all of the other stars except for Mickey Rourke and Statham. Jet Li does a good job portraying the littlest Expendable who is highly insecure of his slight stature. Randy Couture has a couple of nice moments dealing with his cauliflower ear and an exciting fight with Steve Austin.
Their fights are what this film is about. The violence is abundant and the machismo runs high. The film is filled with so many testosterone increasing moments that it can be hard to pick out the ultimate moment in the film. Is it Lundgren vs. Lee, Austin vs. Stallone, Statham vs. a woman beater, Couture vs. Austin, or pretty much the entire thirty minutes of the film.
The final thirty minutes of the film plays out like The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch, and Rambo rolled into one extended action piece. It has to be seen to be believed. There is so much carnage in the final act that one wonders why the middle of the film lags. There could have been something done in this portion of the film to really keep the audience revved up. The film is never boring it just felt like it lagged due to a need for exposition.
The Expendables is certainly not the greatest action film ever made but it might be the manliest one ever made. With that being said, it was a great time and makes the audience want more.