I was grateful this movie held up on a repeat viewing. I saw it in the theater on opening weekend, because I had been looking forward to since I first heard about it. Scott Pilgrim came out that same weekend, and I ended up seeing that much later. I don’t regret the decision.
The premise of The Expendables could hardly be more simple: show a bunch of bad-ass actors kicking a bunch of ass. On that score, the movie succeeds with aplomb. The plot merely serves to string the action sequences together, and it performs that role admirably. You learn just enough about each character to understand why they take the actions they do, and to root for them.
The movie offers a wide variety of action sequences, from major gunfights and explosions, to car chases, and hand to hand combat, and they’re all gripping and entertaining. The good guys don’t win every battle, with teamwork often compensating for an individual’s shortcomings – a nice touch that makes each scene more believable and enjoyable.
Jason Statham has been impressing me for a while with every performance he gives. He and Sylvester Stallone had good chemistry in this movie. Their scenes together come across as a sort of torch-passing from Stallone’s generation of action star to the current crop.
While most of the effects are (or at least appear to be) practical effects1, a few instances of CGI grated on me. They bothered me in the theater, and bothered me at least as much a couple years later at home. I’m talking about the blood spatter. There are a couple times when somebody gets massively severed or exploded, and the blood looks so fake as to be a joke. It doesn’t severely detract from the movie, and it only happens a couple times, but each one caused a cringe or derisive laugh.
Bottom line? If you like action movies, you will probably like this movie. I look forward to the impending sequel, even though Stallone didn’t direct it.