Sylvester Stallone’s new action movie about a band of mercenary good guys is as brawny, loud and rapid as the advertisements have indicated. What I did not expect is how much of a boring checklist this movie is.

This is a typical dumb action movie in that its script (by Dave Callaham and Stallone) contains insipid dialogue and a plot only meant to bridge the numerous fight scenes. The screenplay takes a further step towards mediocrity by not even bothering to exploit the clichés it uses. Familiar plot threads like Stallone’s troubled past and Jason Statham’s conflict between work and love are mentioned minimally and dropped for good when no longer useful. They add almost nothing to the plot and only seem to be there due to action movie regulations. It feels like Stallone was just obligated to give the action a context and was not really interested in creating potentially likable characters.

The Expendables relies on the chemistry of its seasoned action stars to fill in for story and personality. The actors succeed moderately at making the movie worth watching, but the plot favors Stallone and Statham so much that the others have little opportunity to prove their usefulness (I honestly cannot remember a thing Randy Couture does in combat). Of course, how can you tell what any of them are doing with the movie’s dizzying editing and cinematography (seriously, the movie looks like its camera was fastened onto a housefly)? When the camera does sit still, The Expendables features some nifty moments that show how much fun it could have been. Regrettably, Stallone’s slapdash style leaves the rest of the movie flavorless and dreadfully routine.


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