The Expendables 2010 (text review)

James / August 13th, 2010

Tough guys. Always going on suicidal missions. Threatened by bullets and blades. Running from explosions. Best friends waging wars. Nearly killing each other, then going to the bar later to laugh about it. Director and star, Sylvester Stallone, gets all his best men together to kick as much ass as humanly possible, allowing himself a severe beating from Steve Austin. Sly took a serious neck injury. Then he goes in front of a Comic Con audience and jokes about it. A man whose Double-“R” franchises, Rocky and Rambo have both been highly successful. But he keeps coming back for more pain and putting his body on the line for the sake of entertainment. There’s nothing tougher than that!

The Expendables is a movie that lifts you up out of your seat, pats you on the head, gives you a lollipop then smashes you in the fucking face! With a cast like Jason Stathum, Randy Couture, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Dolph “I Must Break You” Lundgren, and cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’d think it would be one crazy mess. Surprisingly, it’s more focused then you may think. Just a straight-forward action movie with a reasonable run time that sustains itself and never has a chance to feel dull. It doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is.

The only negative: Some of the blood and explosions looked digital. Wish it could have been just a bit more authentic. Sometimes, there was a tad too many closeups during the fight scenes. With so many people fighting at the same time, sometimes I couldn’t tell who was punching who. It didn’t happen very often, but how cool would it be just for one moment to see three simultaneous fights from a super wide master shot? Never, but I can’t blame them. At least let the cameras pull back and allow the choreography to do the work.

It feels nice to get my ass kicked by something I haven’t seen yet. It’s not Rambo. It’s not Rocky. Nor is it another Die Hard or Terminator sequel. It’s something fresh, yet feels like it came out of the 80’s. It has the perfect blend of humor, blood, sweat, smart-ass comebacks, witty one-liners, and an overabundance of testosterone! Don’t expect anything more than action, exposition, action, exposition, all with a nice cherry on top… with sprinkles… and grenades. And some real tough guys. We all wish we could be tough guys. But no, let’s just watch’em instead.


  • cameron york

    August 13, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    NICE i saw it and it rocked. btw im ur biggest fan of everything u made and my bdays on the 28th so wish me luck!

  • August 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Man, i saw this movie today at around 4 PM, and it was great. I wanna say that it is one of the greatest Action Movies i’ve ever seen, next to first blood and Rambo 4. The movie ties in Humor and Action perfectly, i agree that there were to many close ups and the camera work was a bit shaky at times. Also, the movie starts out pretty slowly, but once it starts, it kicks your ASS! I give it a 9.8 out a 10. Man was it funny when he Willis said “what’s his problem?” and sly said “he wants to be President” talking about Schwarzenegger. Hilarious.

  • henbayward

    August 14, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Big, loud speakers were invented for that scene alone. Seriously kick-ass movie. I went to the bathroom before we walked into the theater so I wouldn’t have to take a break any time during the movie. I didn’t help because I crapped myself no less than four times. FOUR!

  • Butch Bitch

    August 14, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Ok, NOW i’m excited!

  • August 14, 2010 at 12:41 am

    No Friday the 13th posts? for shame! I slap your hand.

  • Kurt 94

    August 14, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Awesome, I’m due for a good ass kicking from an action movie!

  • Vintagecollector

    August 14, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Cool. Hey, James When Are You Gonna Do More AVGN?

  • henbayward

    August 14, 2010 at 1:20 am

    I forgot to add, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

  • Liam Gauci

    August 14, 2010 at 1:33 am

    We still have to wait another week for it to be released here in Malta. At least that’s better than Scott Pilgrim vs the World, we don’t even have a release date for that!

  • August 14, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Hey James, it’s Statham not Stathum

  • August 14, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I suppose I must see it now. :p

  • Cool4id

    August 14, 2010 at 5:55 am

    it was so funny cause my country is usually slower on movie releases then the us so we get it a week later but the preshowing to get into it you could either pay but it was free if you could benchpress a 100 kilos 😀

  • xdeathknightx

    August 14, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Nice, really wanted to see it and now I want to see it even more. Want to get some 80s action movie nostalgia 🙂

  • August 14, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Nice little good review to get me into watching the movie. I wanted to see The Other Guys but my theater doesn’t have it. However, it has The Expendables so I’ll check it out.

    One thing I’m expecting from this movie besides the Rocky vs. Drago rematch in one scene is the witty banter between Stallone and Statham from the trailers. It’s nice to see a veteran action star and an up-&-comer duke it out verbally for laughs. Plus, I like Statham mostly for the Crank movies though I don’t know they’re your kind of movies James.

  • DecCon83

    August 14, 2010 at 8:31 am

    The Expendables is a movie that lifts you up out of your seat, pats you on the head, gives you a lollipop then smashes you in the fucking face! Best review EVER! Love your work.

  • Nightshade

    August 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I’m going to see this movie because it looks awesome and with that cast wow

  • August 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I agree with you on the super close ups.

    In fact I think that should be a YOU KNOW WHAT’S BUUUUUUUULLSHIT episode – movie fight scenes post 2000.

    I mean what the hell? Have directors, cinematographers, and editors formed some sort of evil conspiracy to cut together a fight scene so quickly that you don’t know what the fuck is going on until it’s over ? And the only way to know who won is dependent on which guy isn’t catching his breath in the next shot as opposed to witnessing it first hand? Aren’t fight scenes supposed to be something ENJOYABLE not something that makes you want to throw up?

    Or does hollywood just think that if things aren’t moving at the speed of light audiences will get bored? Do they really think that low of movie goers these days?

    I don’t know what it is, but it’s BULLLLLLLSHIT.

  • strint519

    August 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Can’t wait, but unfortunately I have to, till Friday..muah!

  • mcb01

    August 14, 2010 at 10:28 am


    yeah I agree. Directors need to stop with the shaky closeup camera work and use more far away, steadier shots and fewer edits.

  • avgnfan3

    August 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

    hey James, I was thinking about this movie, and i’m glad you got to see it and talk about it. I;ll definitely give it a watch. speaking of which, i don’t know if you’ve been asked, but did you see Inception? im sure the fans will be thrilled to hear your views on it!!

  • dvdcrazy

    August 14, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I loved your description of what the experience is like in seeing The Expendables. Haha. So true. Its literally so action packed that you will pass out into a testosterone coma. Worth the wait, worth the money. Worth a second viewing. Worth to buy on dvd.

  • Francis

    August 14, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I like turtles

  • Jericho

    August 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    @ Optics. Ong Bak and The Protector. Tony Jaa movies don’t have that problem. And as for the review, good to know. I wasn’t sure how well it’d turn out when I saw the preview, but you make it sound awesome. I’ll be seeing it tonight.

  • HouseMD

    August 15, 2010 at 2:11 am

    I usually watch movie reviews on, and they said the Action isn’t anything spectacular or even better than most movies. They also mentioned the close-ups… They gave it a rental, is that your opinion too James?

  • GLJeremy

    August 15, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I saw this on Friday in DBOX and it was awesome. I agree about the digital blood though, and was talking to my friends about it later, I think it is actually cheaper that blood packs and effects on set so they do that way now. Also maybe it makes it easier to adjust to get the rating they want. What happens to Eric Roberts in the end would have probably cost twice as much to do on set practically. But I really have to recommend DBOX, when Ceaser was coming down the hallway firing that AA12 the theater seat was rockin’ loved it.

  • August 15, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I give it a 4 out of 5

  • PMart15

    August 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I was looking at the reviews and they all said it was bad…I thought to myself, these aren’t made to be story filled movies, they’re not the french subtitle, love interest, academy award winning stories, these are badass, edge of your seat action movies, reviewers should really learn to take movies for what they are and not for what THEY picture is a good movie…It”s like a book, Ernest Hemmingway is extremely boring, but for some reason his book is considered classic when an interesting book like I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell isn’t

  • Jigglysaint

    August 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Well it’s a contrast to Spoony’s review, that’s for sure. Sounds to me like it’s pretty much mindless fun. Sorry to say that I never had the chance to watch even a single Rambo or Rocky movie(except the very last one, on DVD, in a department store). I guess that’s why I find Cincemassacre so entertaining. It gives me a look into that world I never knew, and to see what I was missing all these years.

  • jtsmoviepage

    August 15, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    This is a very good review and, if you have time, of course, here is the link to my own movie review blog.

  • RockV

    August 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Awesome review James!! I always trust your opinion over anyone else’s about this stuff. Much better then that guy’s review ^^^^^

  • TravASS

    August 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I just saw this movie today and it was amazing your right like always

  • August 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I haven’t seen it yet, but will sure as hell do it. If I’m tough enough.

  • dog2547

    August 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    looks like an awsome movie

  • griffin

    August 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    i agree with most of what james said the close up fight scenes weren’t that bad for some of the fights but when its jet li you know you should obviously zoom out for the reason that jet li thrives in that particular environment its not that bad if sly and steve are fighting because they need cut aways and to be closer up i also heard on i don’t know about this for sure but sylvester stalone is supposedly going to remake the death wish series.

  • BoredAndCynical

    August 16, 2010 at 3:27 am

    No Academy Awards here but satisfying and fun. Im positive there will be a sequel and I’m sure I’ll be there for that one too and more mindless violence

  • NuclearFox

    August 16, 2010 at 8:31 am

    do a nes game giveaway

  • bryan1945

    August 16, 2010 at 11:46 am

    One of the better action movies in a long time. Plot was simple and straightforward. The acting/dialogue was much better than I expected. The fight scenes were hectic, but not as bad as I have gotten used to (1/3 second cuts)- shots were still short but much longer than I’m now accustomed to. Some of the exploding bodies did look a bit CG, but not too bad.

    All I can say is: auto shotgun explosive shells. (I looked it up afterwards. It exists. Look up AA12 shotgun high explosive on YouTube)

    I was happy to see this movie in the theatre If you’re not an action junky like I am, you can probably wait for the rental, but if you like the action, it’s a good see on the big screen.

  • August 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I just saw it Saturday, it was great 🙂

  • CoreyXP

    August 17, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I felt exactly the same way, James. The Expendables was a complete cock-diesel man movie — not a “great” plot (but not terrible, either), a few unnecessary scenes, but packed full of ruthless action with copious amounts of guns and explosions. I do have to agree with you in regards to the camera shots — there were a few too many times in which I felt limited as a viewer because Stallone had decided to focus on only one person’s face during a fight. Other than that, I truly think that this film belongs in the same family as all of those classic 80s action flicks. The fact that it includes many of those old action stars makes it even better!

    Just my two cents.

  • InglouriousNate

    August 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I saw Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World instead…. I’m such a fucking sellout.


  • danster724

    August 18, 2010 at 6:34 am

    I’m going to HAVE to disagree on this one. This movie was quite close to absolute crap. If it weren’t for the last 20 minutes of the film I would rate ‘The Expendables’ unwatchable. A terrible script, a story riddled with more bullet holes than you’ll find in the movie and acting performances that remind you that several of the leads used to be ‘professional’ wrestlers (meaning that they SUCKED). Much of the dialogue cannot be heard due to loud rumblings in the background and the fact that half the actors have speech impediments commonly associated with testosterone pumped meat heads. James mentioned the tagged on CG explosions and blood which an amateur probably could’ve done with Final Cut Express so I won’t go into that. There is no character depth, no REAL humor, no intelligent lines WHATSOEVER and what’s more? THERE AREN’T EVEN THAT MANY ACTION SEQUENCES TO VALIDATE THAT! As I said, the last 20 minutes saves the movie. If you can sit through the first hour of what tries to be plot build up (which makes NO sense even if you can understand them) then you will be rewarded with a fantastic action scene worth of note. I think Stallone should’ve either hired some better writers if he really wanted to use so much of the screen time to try and develop a story, or he should’ve just made the whole thing one long adrenaline pumping action scene. Sure there are a couple other scenes of fighting before the end but at BEST you could say that A COUPLE of those are on par with your average action flick today. Nothing special there. The only other redeeming feature was getting to see Swarzennegar, Stallone and Willis all in one scene. It was just as poorly scripted a scene as the rest but who freakin’ cares when you’ve got names like that all in one place. I would say if you’re a fan of action movies, go see it, but don’t expect your mind to be blown and be prepared to sift through a lot of sh*t to get to anything decent.

  • CoreyXP

    August 18, 2010 at 9:25 am


    …which is why it fits in perfectly with every other 80s classic action film. Bad plot, tons of violence, and you’re left with a rush of adrenaline but nothing else.

  • mjmalmsteen

    August 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I really liked the movie mainly because my two fav. actors where in the film Dolph Lundgren,and Gary Daniels(they were also together in Retrograde,but that movie kind of sucks). Without a doubt Dolph character was the best in the film,and I was very happy to see Gary’s name in the opening credits,and he also got some great screen time and a few lines. Daniels is a great actor and amazing martial artist,and I can’t wait to see him as Brian Fury in Tekken. It is good to see both of them on the big screen in america. I think the story is ok,but the acting is great in the Expendables I love it! Now I can’t wait for the new Lundgren movie Icarus to come out in america.

  • Abstrakt

    August 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Saw the movie last night and i gotta say i agree with most of the review but overall i wasnt entertained.

    Of course i didnt expect the plot to be very deep or intrigueing, but the action scenes is what killed it for me.
    They were all so swiftly cut that it was hard to see what was going on and much of it was far too close up.

    Sometimes you might get a brief glimpse of a combat move but the camera will quickly skip away to some other scene.

    This totally killed the movie for me since you to this movie to see some action and gore and all you get is fast cuts and glimpses of action. 4/10

  • August 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    This movie kicked my ass and had me begging for more, it was refreshing, something new, to the now growing world of 3D drama movies like Avatar, which was good, but I think The Expendables was a long over due kick in the ass.
    Great review James! Keep it up!

  • polluxval

    August 18, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    stole the words from my…. keyboard.

    personally reated: 6/10

  • gamerdude122

    August 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    @ Pmart15
    You see, the LIBERAL critics gave it a bad review cause it made America look like the good guy. Yeah, that’s about it.

  • Karate Kid Icarus

    August 22, 2010 at 3:05 am

    This movie is deserves a second viewing to fully enjoy it.

    After seeing it a second time it was much better to appreciate and enjoy with all the very quick action sequences.

  • shad fan avgn

    August 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    this movie will kick ass

  • StrongStyle81

    August 22, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Stallone has kept my inner eight year old alive for a little longer. All that was needed was someone snorting cocaine and a random breast shot and this movie would have every 80’s action movie cliche in it. Unfortunately this movie proves once again that practical effects are much more effective than digital, especially when it comes to the gore. Digital just looks to clean, compare it to the unrated version of Robocop where ED-209 blew the OCP exec straight to Hell.

  • kyros

    August 23, 2010 at 5:15 am

    I thought the movie was great, and I had the exact same criticisme about the digital stuff and the camera close up during action scenes.

    I heard that Stallone was inspired by the Bourne Trilogy, if you think about it this trilogy has the same flaws with the camera close up.

  • htfmaniac

    August 23, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    This film is all about sensual stimulus, same shit as Tarantino only thing is that Tarantino doesn’t come to Brazil, shoot a filme and leave with a millionaire debt with our government and still dares to ironacally say: Filming in Brazil is great, you blow up everything, people thank you and you walk away.
    I still didn’t watched it, but I preety much knows what it is about… bottom line: fuck Stallone, his films are terible, Rambo is terrible, Rocky is terrible, but I used to find’em nostalgic and funny. Too bad.

  • greetings from dk . AVGN RULES

    August 24, 2010 at 11:28 am

    this movie is just fuckin awesome . GO WATCH IT NOW !!!!!!!!!

  • CrazyA.M.

    August 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    @htfmaniac, Are you insane? Rambo was great and so was Rocky? What kind of movies do you like anyways?

  • Sylveria

    August 27, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    @htfmaniac I don’t even know what to say to that.. Rocky and Rambo are terrible? And bashing Tarantino? From the context I would have to say you live in Brazil (and English is obviously not your first language judging by your spelling). Also, if you’re too lazy to even use the spell check feature, why should anyone care what a word you have to say is? Oh, I know why.. cause an obvious troll is obvious. Hopefully the next time someone blows up chunks of Brazil, it’ll include your house.

    This movie deserves to be watched. It is a throwback to the kind of movies that anyone over the age of 15 grew up on and performs in the most spectacular fashion possible.

  • v0id

    August 31, 2010 at 4:16 am

    Well, I have to say that isn’t only Stallone that thinks something like that about Brazil, a lot of Americans think that we are a bunch of latinosshit that live with monkeys.
    Thanks for your opinion, just make me feel better about my opinion about Americans. Also, try to speak another language before to say “english mothafucka, do you speak it?”.

  • htfmaniac

    September 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    @Sylveria: yes, indeed english isn’t my first language as well as I’m in fact brazilian. Pardon for the misspeling I’ll double check it from now on. Anyways, this isn’t the main subject.
    I wouldn’t bother decrying this film, wasn’t for stallone’s poor attitude and arrogancy. So, briefly, here it goes: as I see it, this sort of film is a sad reflex of the comtemporary society we’re all inserted in, in which something called cultural industry runs the game. As both Adorno and Haug had discussed, – and here, if bother, study – industrial capitalism doesn’t make room for individuallity. The reason for that is, that by homogenising – by constant training since youth – the aesthetic parameters of society you can recycle the same product over and over by simply changing the package, or in this case, the plot. There is – and James is bound to know that – a book written by Joseph Campbell called “the hero with a thousand faces” which predicts a pattenr of how greek mithology worked. Later on this was adapted by hollywood studios, when some guy simplified it into 12 steps which he refferd as “The hero’s journey”. By following this simple 12 steps, one can build any film in the classic cinema standards – such as rambo, rocky and probably, the expandables -.
    Most of the films we see follow this strict rule, the trouble is that, not even the most trained monkey will stand watching the same thing over and over during his whole life. So here is how the merchandise – or the films – manage to keep fresh: by adding sensual stimulus. Faster edition, more vivid colors or in the case of the 80’s more explosions.
    Rambo 4 is rambo 1, 2 and 3 with more violency and bigger sensual appeal. The expandables as you said, is a throwback with the addition of a new design. Just as well as new Ipods come in new looks but with the same gimmicks. They’re making you consume the same thing over and over; Just as well as your father did and your great grand children will, for capitalism will never die. It’s the only economical system that has ever lived of it’s contraddition. The only system capable of printing Che Guevara’s face on a t-shirt and selling you for 30 dollars on the shopping mall.
    Where I wan to get is: there’s no scape to this condition, but people, could at least show a bit more of respect and profisionalism, or at least watching their words before wishing other people houses get blown up.
    I got nothing against americans, so just don’t start up with xenophobia for I’m happily studying cinema here, and I don’t intend on stealing your job.

  • September 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    This is a somewhat late comment, but I couldn’t resist. I just watched the Expendables, then I came here to read James’ review, was enjoying, until I found some brazilian dudes commenting against Stallone, or whatever he said while fliming in Brazil.

    First, I’m also a brazilian. Second, this is bullshit. This should be about the movie. I don’t even quite know what Stallone did or said here, and I don’t care, his movies are awesome, and this movie was pretty cool. You just sit there, relax, don’t have to think much about it… It just entertains you, and that’s why I liked it. Oh, and the Arnie – Sly talk: Priceless.

    So, Stallone may even be an idiot for you guys, but this post is about the movie, not whatever he did in Brazil. What are you, social workers?

  • September 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    @ darkinthecorner
    I couldn’t agree more. Stallone is fucking badass. He’s THE shit. htfmanic? You’re just shit. Bullshit.

  • Ben_from_G-town

    September 17, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Glad to see you were someone else who could just go to the movie and enjoy it for what it was, James, and not over-analyze it. I enjoyed it myself, but I think some people read too much into things and took it too seriously.

    In any case, nice to hear your opinion on it.

  • Rasengan999

    December 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    @htfmaniac Wow, you are freaking retarded aren’t you? Sure, these movies follow the same patterns, BUT THAT IS A GOOD THING! Oh no! Somebody made something close to Rambo? AWESOME! They follow the pattern because it creates something GOOD! You say nobody wold spend their lives watching the same thing. If that’s true, then why would many of us watch a 24 hour marathon of First Blood, or the Christmas Story, which actually is shown for 24 hours! Look out! They made Rambo with more explosions!! … GOOD!!! Explosions are good, action is good, THE PATTERN IS GOOD! If you do not enjoy watching explosions, you do not deserve to watch any movies! Oh what’s that? Your friends are having a movie marathon? WELL TOO BAD! You have to stay home and lick your mom’s diarrhea dump of your dad’s penis! Also- Who cares if a movie was made in your country?! That doesn’t mean they are being racist. Do you think that Detroit cared when they made Robocop, or if Germany cared when they made Inglorious Basterds? Ok, sure, Germany may have cared, but the creators weren’t being racist, they were just making a comedic story about a real event! You are an idiot.

    P.S.- I’m not racist, but if all Brazilians were like you, I would…have a very poor opinion of them! But hey, I guess your the only one, because darkinthecorner isn’t a ball-licking retard like you!

  • Rasengan999

    December 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm


    P.S.S.- Movies are supposed to be sensually stimulating, especially action movies. That is why they were invented! For entertainment and stimulation!

  • Sandwhale

    December 25, 2010 at 5:59 am

    When I heard that there was a MMA guy in the mix, I didn’t know what to wait. Surprisingly Randy Couture was decent in his role. It seems like mixed martial artist make better actors than “pro wrestlers” like The Rock.

    And as a short person I couldn’t agree more with Jet Li.

  • specfu

    December 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    htfmaniac needs to get laid…of course movies are going to be in one genre or another, is he gonna come out with a new one or what, might wanna try doing weather for a news channel

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