★★★★☆The intent behind The Expendables (2010) is now legendary; a chance to bring back the past action stars of yore, all heralded under heavyweight director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone’s banner. The Expendables introduces (or should that be re-introduces) us to a gang of mercenaries, hard as nails but with hearts as big as their biceps, including Jason Statham as 'Lee Christmas', Jet Li as the snappily named 'Ying-Yang' and Terry Crews in the role of 'Hale Caesar'.
Stallone doesn't quite stoop to the embarrassing levels of Cobra’s (1986) ‘Marion Cobretti’, instead plucking for the more pedestrian ‘Barney’, and unlike the big purple dinosaur, you can't help but want to hug Stallone for bringing these veterans back onto our screens.
At one point, a scene is devoted to a bedraggled Mickey Rourke (yes, he is here as well) reciting a profound verse explaining the torment he holds as an ex-Expendable. At least, that is the conclusion I came to. And there are also plot holes and unanswered questions aplenty, like what exactly was the thing that Gunnar (Lundgren) whispers to Barney? Is this really all about cocaine? And why do the Somalian pirates have subtitles whereas Stallone and Rourke don’t? These brief criticisms ultimately don't really matter, however. When the action gets going - and when I say get going, I mean as soon as the opening credits have finished - Stallone is truly in his element.
Cinema has always sought to make the impossible possible and The Expendables, no matter how childish, offers the possibility of seeing some of action cinema's greatest heroes reunited for one last shoot-em-up, providing both blatant and implausible escapism. Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) has been credited for thinking highly of its audience, rewarding its intelligence rather than its ability to merely sit back and switch off. I, for one, deem this way of thinking applicable to Stallone's The Expendables. The film treats its audience as a friend, inviting one and all to share in the fun; the dialogue, as atrocious as it is, is recited knowing wholeheartedly the very audience sharing the joke on the other side of the screen.