the_expendables_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

There was a time when, if you left the Hollywood scene because you were getting on in age, that was it for you.  Sure, you got a few grandpa and grandma roles but that would be it. But nowadays, with Betty White’s resurgence as a hot commodity television star, there’s quite a bit of hope for older actors and actresses.

When I first  heard about The Expendables, I rolled my eyes and wondered what Sylvester Stallone was thinking, trying to put his old butt in another action film.  He barely got away with the latest installment of Rambo, which I hated.

I was wrong.

The Expendables is about six guys, Barney Ross (played by Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Ying Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture), and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) who work for the United States government as mercenaries doing the dirty work that the CIA and the FBI don’t want to be caught doing.  They get an assignment to take out General Garza (David Zayas) but find a lot more than they expected.

The film, written and directed by Stallone, with screenwriting partner Dave Callaham, is more tongue-in-cheek than I expected.  I figured I would see action, naked women and old guys with Botox.  Surprisingly, there was minimal, if any, skin, just a group of men who seem to have a natural closeness and tease each other like brothers.

The story isn’t all that great and is actually a little on the weak side; however, it is interesting enough to set itself up for the anticipated sequel.

As for directing, Stallone was good about showing blood, guts and gore without testing my upchuck reflex.  When the action gets going, I’m usually watching it through my fingers but I did not cover my eyes once while watching The Expendables. Stallone seems to be a pretty decent director, now that he’s done trial-and-error with re-makes of his classic films.

But this film isn’t just about The Expendables.  It encompasses action stars of the ’80s, ’90s and a little more recent.  Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an appearance as Trench, a cocky mercenary with an affinity for “bromantic” banter with Stallone’s Barney.  Bruce Willis also makes a cameo appearance as Mr. Church, a top government official who wants General Garza dead.

The film also stars Eric Roberts, who plays James Munroe, a CIA chief gone rogue.  Steve Austin plays Paine, whose name says it all.  He sucker-punches a woman. Speaking of women, there are only two in the entire cast: Charisma Carpenter as Lacy and Giselle Itie as Sandra.

Carpenter hasn’t really had many roles since her days on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel but she does a decent job with the small part she was given in this film.  Word to Stallone: Carpenter should have had more screen time. Itie is pretty good as Sandra, the General’s daughter. 
She’s got moxy, which will take her far in her acting career.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she pops up in three major films next year.

Last, but not least, Mickey Rourke plays Tool, The Expendables’ former tattoo artist. Rourke brings more life to this film than any other character.  I’ve never seen him play someone so charismatic.  He makes people want to talk to Tool, who’s wise and seems to serve as the father-figure to the mercenaries.  It looks good on him.

In the interest of space, I will limit my review of each man’s performance. Suffice it to say, all are worth their mettle and have successfully reminded audiences why they were bankable action stars in their heydays.

Kimberly Grant may be reached at