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The Expendables 

Bad Shakespeare: The bad-ass cast of The Expendables sells it—if only just barely.

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THE EXPENDABLES
  • The Expendables
“Bad Shakespeare,” one badass notes with a sad shake of his head. It’s the perfect phrase for the manly male melodrama that passes for character here, and the cheesy revelations that pass for plot. It is the fact that co-writer/director Sylvester Stallone recognizes this himself that is The Expendables’ saving grace. But just barely.

When it isn’t bad Shakespeare, it’s Solider of Fortune: The Porno. Machine guns that ejaculate multiple rounds per second! Enormous thrusting knives! And the orgasms! I mean: The explosions! They go on and on and on in cascades of eruptions of hot plasma. Stallone winks at the homoerotic pornification of the action movie, too; I won’t spoil the joke, but it’s a sure bet that if anyone other than Bruce Willis said what he says to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone himself, he’d be exiting the movie in a body bag.

The winking self-awareness of everyone involved is another tiny saving grace. But just barely.

Arnie and Bruce make only cameo appearances here. The rest of the movie is an orgy of other muscle-bound bad boys: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, some pro wrestlers. Stallone leads them to an unnamed South American island under the thumb of a scary general (David Zayas), who is under the thumb of a rogue CIA operative (Eric Roberts). Stallone wasn’t going to help the island people, because messing with the CIA is never a good idea, but he just can’t forget that one pretty girl (Giselle Itié). See, he’s a noble mercenary.

You almost can’t hate a movie where badasses get to hang around in between badass missions in a totally badass tattoo parlor/motorcycle garage and listen to Mickey Rourke reminisce about that badass time when they were up in Bosnia. Sure, it’s bad Shakespeare, but Rourke sells it—if only just barely.

THE EXPENDABLES

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Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li
Rated R

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