Expendables, The (2010)

Rated: R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language.
Length: 103 minutes
Grade: DD-DD=D-
Budget: $80 million
Box Office: $315 million (103 U.S., 171 Intl., 41 DVD)

Written by: David Callaham (First major script) and Sylvester Stallone (Rambo series, Rocky series, Driven, Cliffhanger, Cobra, Over the Top, and Staying Alive)
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone (Rambo, and the Rocky movies)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Eric Roberts
With: Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crewes, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Giselle Itie.

Summary: A group of very old mercenaries decide to go back to an island dictatorship to help liberate it from the grips of a rogue CIA agent and a brutal dictator. Plus they might save the pretty girl.

There’s really good cheese, there’s good cheese, there’s cheesy cheese, and there’s bad cheese. This is really bad cheesy cheese. The problem was, well, that’s not quite the right way to approach this. Saying there was a problem would be to imply there was some basic good starting background goodness to all this. There wasn’t. A movie chock-full of washed-up, greasy, sinewy old action stars has the chance to really be entertaining, especially if they would lean in the direction of their best terrible puns and joke lines. They don’t. If somehow they could poke fun at their own genre, that could work. They don’t. If instead they write an impossible action mash-up strung on the weakest possible plots, it’s just plain really bad cheesy cheese. Everything was there to do a dark satire, the corrupt general, the schemey CIA operative and his number-one thug, the vulnerable but tough crusader princess, and the reluctant warrior who draws his friends into his mess by their loyalty. But deadpan dry humor is just plain bad content if the author performer never winks sardonically at the camera. No winks here, just one mindless scene after another. Too bad. I was hopeful for this one.

Overall Grade: D-
Really bad cheesy cheese. If I ever have to see another oily, veiny, leather-skinned former action star, it’ll be too soon. My biggest frustration? The Expendables II (2012).

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