"Proof, if any were needed, that bigger doesn’t mean better"
I have never, ever been to a screening, and seen a reaction quite like the one for The Expendables. Literally every time one of the big names appeared on the screen in the opening credits (and there are a LOT of big names in this film), the entire cinema cheered (apart from me of course I find the entire concept of cheering in a cinema terribly uncouth!).
Needless to say, the expectation around this film can only be described as immense. The cast list is frankly ridiculous. Stallone. Schwarzenegger. Willis. Rourke. Lundgen. Li. Statham. I’m not exaggerating when I say that at least one of those has been in almost every major action film for the last 30 years. As I said – ridiculous!
However (there was always going to be a however, it’s just a posh but), all the finest ingredients in the world do not a good meal make, and unfortunately The Expendables proves to be the perfect example of this. Simply put, it's just not very good. Apart from the cast list, there is nothing stand out about this film. The special effects are shockingly bad for a film of this magnitude, the plot paper thin (but that comes as no surprise), but the biggest failing is the direction - I found it very difficult to engage with the film, either through the characters of the action scenes, which made it very difficult to enjoy.
It's not total doom and gloom though, as there are a few moments that we very enjoyable. In particular, a scene in a church with Willis, Stallone and Schwarzenegger is genius. More surprisingly given Jet Li's involvement, the standout fight scenes all belong to Jason Statham, who's probably the only actor to come out of the film with his reputation enhanced.
The Expendables has to be seen as a missed opportunity. I'm not saying that it had to be Oscar winning stuff, but with the cast they had, this could have been the action movie of an entire generation, instead it's just another film destined for the bargain bin of your local DVD emporium.