A group of mercenaries is double-crossed during a mission and are approached by Church to overthrow the ruthless dictator of a South American country. It isn’t long before the men realise things aren’t quite as they appear. Finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of betrayal. Although their mission is compromised and an innocent is in danger. Soldier of fortune Barney and his comrades decide to get the job done.
Sylvester Stallone stars as Barney Ross, the leader of a team of mercenaries called ‘The Expendables’ hired by a CIA suit (Bruce Willis) to take down the corrupt government of a fictional South American island country. Ross is joined by knife expert Lee Christmas (Jason Statham); the offensively-named Asian guy Ying Yang (Jet Li); the big Russian turncoat named Gunner (Dolph Lundgren); the heavy artillery expert Hale Ceasar (Terry Crews); and Randy Couture plays a character named Toll Road, whose sole mark on the movie is explaining his cauliflower ear.
Together they head to the island country to stop General Garza (David Zayas). Who’s merely a puppet for the cartoonish villain Munroe (Eric Roberts). 2010’s third over-the-top CIA agent-gone-bad (Patrick Wilson played the same role in The A-Team; Jason Patrick played it in The Losers). Munroe’s followed by a bald brute named Paine (Steve Austin), the usual muscle-bound bodyguard type. Of course, there’s a woman involved; General Garza’s rebellious daughter Sandra (Giselle Itié), who Ross makes it his mission to rescue. But strangely there’s not even the suggestion of sexual sparks between the characters. Which would have provided the hero some much-needed humanizing.
The point of the movie, if there is one, is that being a mercenary makes you dead inside.
Ironically, so doThe Expendables (Biet Doi Danh Thue 1) attempts at sending this message. Mickey Rourke steals the show as Tool, an ex-mercenary and owner of a mercenary bar. (There are mercenary bars?!) Rourke’s level of talent feels far too elevated for this scrip. As evident in the scene where Tool recalls the moment when he decided to give up ‘the life’. He teaches Ross that killing for money creates a cavity in one’s soul. This doesn’t seem to matter moments later.
However, when Ross is mowing bodies down by the dozens, but it was a nice try. Perhaps if Stallone and Callaham had conceived some lingering doubt in Ross’ mind earlier in the script, suggesting he thought being a soldier of fortune wasn’t the best approach to life. Then maybe his false emotional turn in the finale would have been believable. But, as we’ve learned from the aforementioned The A-Team and The Losers. A mercenary’s existence comes sprinkled with chummy repartee between pals. Most of it comprised of bad jokes and macho riffs. Not to mention lots of dead bodies. What’s not to love?
Despite the heavily populated cast, Stallone and Jason Statham have the most screen time. And the movie plays almost like a buddy story between their characters. Statham’s Christmas shines in a subplot involving an ex-girlfriend that leaves him for an abusive jerk. When he discovers that she’s being beaten. Christmas roughs up the new boyfriend and his basketball pals in the movie’s best fight sequence. But the machine-gun action is mild for R-rated violence, especially compared to the horrific bloodshed of Rambo.