Summer Blockbuster Preview: The Expendables

In our latest Summer Blockbuster Preview, we take a look at The Expendables, as writer, director and star Sylvester Stallone assembles a tough guy cast for his retro actioner…

What Is It?

Quite possibly the action film to end all action films, writer, director and actor Sylvester Stallone has assembled an all-star cast of genre heroes for The Expendables. Indeed, the cast roster is a veritable who’s who of straight-to-video actors, with Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren appearing as members of a group of muscle-bound mercenaries led by Sly himself. Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are also featured.

The plot is your typical 80s action fare, with Sly’s group of combat specialists heading to a fictional South American country to take down its evil dictator. Despite the abundant grim faces displayed in The Expendables’ trailer, this doesn’t look like the kind of film that takes itself too seriously, particularly with its rogue’s gallery of characters given names such as Yin Yang, Lee Christmas, Hale Caesar and Tole Road.

Who’s Behind It?

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Sylvester Stallone co-wrote The Expendables with Dave Callaham, whose previous writing credits include Tell-Tale, an loose adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart that has yet to be released in the UK, and videogame adaptation Doom, starring Dwayne Johnson.

With schlock movies like Cobra, Driven and Cliffhanger on Stallone’s CV, it’s easy to forget that he was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for Rocky way back in 1977. I think it’s safe to say that Stallone won’t be troubling the Academy with his script for The Expendables – at least, not with South American dictators screaming lines such as “We will KEELL this American disease!” – but then, this never was going to be a film filled with Shakespearian dialogue and drama.

Why Should I Watch It?

The Expendables is all about guns, explosions, and stony-faced male bonding – a kind of Action Force crossed with Sex And The City. If The Expendables were any more of a bloke’s movie, the ushers would be handing out free tins of beer as you walked into the cinema.

An unsubtle blend of high-kicking martial arts courtesy of Li and Statham, plus plenty of tattoos, one-liners and helpless women in distress, The Expendables is a slightly quaint throwback to the action movies of some 20 or more years ago – expect plenty of car crashes, vast fire fights and rippling muscles.

Until recently, there were rumours floating around that suggested producer Avi Lerner would be test screening two versions, one uncut for an R rating and the other edited for a PG-13 certification, leading to fears that audience hopes for a full-blooded action movie along the lines of 2008’s Rambo would be crushed. Thankfully, Stallone dismissed these anxieties in April, telling Entertainment Weekly that “These guys are born hard R,” while a quick glance at The Expendables’ website reveals that the MPAA have indeed given the picture an R rating.

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It’s therefore fair to say The Expendables will be violent, daft, and potentially a lot of fun – and with a central cast made up almost entirely of action legends, could provide us with one of this summer’s biggest guilty pleasures.

US release date: 13 AugustUK release date: 20 August