The Expendables

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

Synopsis: The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other.

They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren).  Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas).  But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls…or destroy their brotherhood forever.

Release Date: August 13, 2010

The Last Stand Arnold Schwarzenegger

In the summer of 2002, an action film was released that declared itself a new kind of spy movie. It said goodbye to the archaic days of Pierce Brosnan’s tired, nostalgia-mining James Bond in favor of something more 21st century. And in 2002, that meant a lot of nu-metal and X-Games stunts. That film was the absurd xXx, which turned out to be a minor hit before Vin Diesel’s action star career went into near-permanent stall mode for the better part of that decade. However, it was a much less arrogant film that ended up changing the spy genre. Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity made Matt Damon into the unlikeliest of action heroes. He proved that American action stars didn’t need to look and talk like professional wrestlers. Damon’s lean, agile, reserved, and intelligent character didn’t require obvious quips, unquestioning jingoism, or a money shot of him walking away from a sea of explosions to be a threatening bad ass. As the first three Bourne films were released to an exponentially bigger cult of admirers, the brute action stars of old faded into obsolescence. Arnold was a politician, Sly was nowhere to be seen, and a post-Shyamalan Bruce Willis took seemingly every part he could get his hands on, good or bad, only briefly returning to his action movie roots with a PG-13 muzzle. Then, at the end of the decade, with the release of The Expendables, the brute action hero nostalgia machine kicked into high gear. And promptly went […]

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laststand19

As written, The Last Stand is not an interesting movie. It’s a simple modern-day western as action flick with dialogue that’s nearly 100% expositional and a plot that offers nothing in the way of surprise, suspense or subtlety. It could really have been made at any time and starred any major or minor actor and been roughly the same as what we’re looking at this weekend with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leading role. But The Last Stand is arriving now and indeed with Schwarzenegger’s name on the top of the marquee, his first starring vehicle in ten years. That makes the movie of note all by itself, in such a way that it might as well be actually titled “The Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Or “Arnold is Back,” although this would imply that it’s an opportunity for winking bits of self-awareness. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of silly references to the Arnie classics and signature lines. He thankfully got the obvious “I’m back” shtick out of his system in last year’s The Expendables 2.

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Today is Grandparents Day. So where are all the movies aimed at Americans celebrating the holiday? Is it that we still don’t honor the occasion the way we do with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, even after 35 years of its existence? Or, is it that, in spite of always being proven wrong by movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hollywood still thinks seniors don’t go to the movies? It might be a combination, though I did take notice the other day that the trailer for Parental Guidance arrived appropriately this very weekend. The comedy stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as a couple who have to watch their grandchildren while their daughter (Marisa Tomei) goes on a business trip. And the humor apparently comes from the elder duo’s generational disconnect from kids today. First question: Are Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are old enough to play grandparents now? Well, they’re in their mid-60s, which seems about right looking at it as someone who feels late to the parenting game myself. My mom and dad are in that age group, and though my kid is an infant, there are some people from my high school class already seeing theirs off to high school this year.

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The Expendables 3 Cast?

Seeing as The Expendables 2 has yet to hit theaters, it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything concrete yet nailed down for The Expendables 3. That doesn’t mean Sylvester Stallone and his crew don’t have some ideas about what tricks they want to pull out of their sleeves for the eventual trilogy capper though. And, in a chat with Total Film, Expendables producer Avi Lerner found himself spilling the beans about which big name actors that haven’t yet been involved in the franchise they want to sign up for part 3. According to Lerner, “We’ve approached Clint Eastwood to be one of the guys, we’ve got a character in mind for him. We’re talking to Harrison Ford. [And we want] Wesley Snipes when he comes back from prison. I’ll give you one more name, we’ve got Nicolas Cage to play [one of the characters].” Of course, wanting and approaching doesn’t exactly equal having, so these names should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Two of these guys don’t really do much acting anymore, and one is still in prison, so Lerner could be pinning his hopes on long shots.

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Boiling Point

It’s Expendables week and if you’re anything like me, you couldn’t be more erect. There’s just something about a bunch of hulked up dudes, rippling with muscle, dripping with sweat, kicking ass, and wrestling each other that just really appeals to me, ya know? “No homo.” ~ The Lonely Island. But seriously, putting aside the disappointment in the first film (I still dig it, it just could have been way better), there is something great about seeing all the biggest action stars of the 80s and 90s back on screen again in a big way. Notice my word choice here – biggest. Big. Emphasis on size. These dudes are no joke. Sly Stallone could be retired and playing golf Palm Springs, but instead he’s working out and putting guys half his age to shame on the screen. Likewise, Terry Crews, gigantic and scary. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest of all time. Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris – dudes that all flexed serious muscle on screen. Why do people get so excited about these guys making their return to the silver screen? Simple. Our action stars today are lacking. To put it simply: Where’s the beef?

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The Expendables 2 at Comic-Con

People like to talk a lot in absolutes and turn everything into a competition. Hence, you hear a lot of “what won Comic Con” in regards to what panel absolutely floored people, generally with the reveal of footage. I can tell you with great certainty that The Expendables 2 did not win San Diego Comic-Con, but it sure as hell was a fun panel. The panel started with the same trailer we’ve already seen – hey, you’ve got to tease the crowd a little bit first, you can’t just come right out and show them something new. This was quickly followed up with a Stallone highlight reel set to some blistering rock and roll, from Black Sabbath to The Rolling Stones, with clips covering Rocky, Rambo, Assassins, The Expendables, The Expendables 2, and Tango and Cash! With a sufficiently manly introduction, the rest of the cast was brought out – Terry Crews climbed the table and Arnold Schwarzenegger got his own rocking clip show that spanned from Conan the Barbarian to Predator, Terminator, and True Lies. But what about new Expendables 2 footage!?

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Culture Warrior

Crowding a movie with talent often seems like a good idea only in the abstract sense. In practice, such films can easily feel overstuffed. For example, the basic conceits for both The Expendables and Grown Ups sound like products of wishful thinking held during a drunk conversation between a group of 19-year-olds at 3am. Yes, in theory a movie featuring all of the action stars of the 80s or the most successful SNL cast since the late-70s would be great – however, a bunch of famous people do not a seminal action film or great comedy make. What’s most surprising about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the whole somehow proved greater than its parts. A movie with this quantity of iconic superheroes runs the incredible risk of being overstuffed and only half-cooked. The standards created by previous Hollywood films indicate that studios would be happy enough allowing the conflagration of bankable characters stand in for (or, more accurately, distract from the lack of) actual entertainment value; mammoth opening weekends, after all, are always more a sign of effective marketing than good filmmaking. But The Avengers not only stands as an equal to some of the stronger entries in Marvel’s 4-year, 5-film multiverse-building, but is arguably superior. Some of these characters came across more fully-fleshed and three-dimensional as part of an ensemble than in their respective standalone films.

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Some folks love trailers while others think they’re the devil’s work made to foil your plans of avoiding spoilers, but regardless which side of that particular fence you land on, few people would argue that trailers are an art unto themselves and deserve their own recognition. It’s for that reason that we present the ten best trailers of the year. They’re in alphabetical order, but in the spirit of trailers being too often filled with spoilers these days, let me just reveal right now that the best trailer of the year is the red-band one for Hobo With A Shotgun.

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In many ways, the end of the year is just like every other part of the year: we want to make lists. So we come up with lots of list ideas. One idea this year, like almost every year, is a list of the best action films. But this year, 2010, is special. This article is special. Why? Because this Year in Review article is going to kick off a brand new column that you’ll be able to rock and roll with every Wednesday in 2011: Bullet Points. Like The Coroner’s Report, Bullet Points will focus on a particular genre. I’m not talking down to you when I say that it’s action films,  though you probably guessed that pretty quickly. To kick off this column right and make 2010 just explode all over itself, we’re counting down our ten favorite action films.

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Terry Crews is a bit of a renaissance man. He’s the type of guy you don’t want standing next to you at a party in fear that he’ll easily make you look bad. An art major at Western Michigan University, a former NFL defensive end and linebacker, and someone that is undeniably hilarious but also has the capability of beating you to a pulp in a matter of seconds. A man who once starred in White Chicks and Norbit isn’t the type of actor you’d think be tearing up the screen as a crew member of The Expendables. But lately, President Camacho (which I desperately wanted to call him, at least once) has been playing in the action arena. Crews took a nice over-the-top turn in Gamer and his Hail Caesar was a highlight in Stallone’s ’80s throwback, especially with his notable weapon of choice. 10 years ago he started off in action with the The 6th Day, and now he’s going further under, thankfully, better circumstances. I recently had a short amount of time with Crews to discuss the blu-ray release of The Expendables, and he was basically what you’d expect Terry Crews to be like: overwhelming charismatic. It was a loose, small conversation starting off with talking about the character names in the film. An odd topic to start off with, but keep in mind this is a film with names like, ‘Hail Caesar’ and ‘Lee Christmas’.

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Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees the arrival of a damn entertaining British series called Luther and the long-awaited DVD debut of The Six Million Dollar Man as well as The Expendables, Eat Pray Love, I’m Still Here, and more.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Back in the saddle again here on This Week in Blu-ray. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I will say that I’ve been on-time (read: published sometime during the week) for several weeks now. Pretty soon Rob Hunter will stop snickering every time he writes “Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week in Blu-ray” in his well-read column, This Week in DVD. But until then, I press on with a passion for that which can only be enjoyed in 1080 lines of resolution. This week we explore the past with several very old men, the likes of Fritz Lang and Sylvester Stallone. We also get to enjoy a light week that should have you (and your pocketbook) well rested for the upcoming holiday weekend. Apparently people shop like crazy on Friday, but I’ll believe it when I see it. For Tuesday, I will spare you the erroneous purchases so that you might sniff out the best Blu-ray deals Black Friday has to offer…

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The Reject Report

We’ve got the holy water, the crucifix, and the shaky cam poised and ready, and we’re taking aim at Hayden Christensen’s ridiculous hat. Two new films hit wide release this weekend. Both are determined to take down the muscle behind The Expendables and claim the #1 spot. Whether horror, Eli Roth, and the power of good buzz take The Last Exorcism to the top or the fascination with that damn hat (seriously, that hat has some kind of gravitational pull for me towards Takers) remains to be seen. Let’s see how each one stands up.

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The Reject Report

The Expendables topped the chart for a second weekend in a row. You can’t chalk it up to the dominating force the men involved in the film have on movie goers’ and their wallets, though. With a second weekend drop of more than 50%, it’s not exactly a day of rejoicing for fans of Sly Stallone and his crew. It’s just that everything else out this weekend performed that poorly, a true sign that we’re over and done with Summer, and it’s going to be a few month before we see any new blockbusters make their mark on the box office.

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The Week That Was

Around here, we don’t ask much of you, dear reader. However, we do ask that you are honest with yourself. And if you’re honest with yourself this week, you’ll probably note that you’ve (sadly) missed a lot of wonderful articles that our crack staff of writers have put together. I know I have. So it’s time to catch up, to get tuned in, and get your fill of all the wonderful editorials, reviews and (when we feel like it) movie news that you missed. It’s also time for the return of my own weekly endeavor, The Week That Was. The column that talks about the week… that was. Get it? I look back over the last seven days and select for you the highlights. Just in case you were busy waging a maritime war against bloodthirsty prehistoric fish, or something of the like.

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The Reject Report

Thank God for Piranha 3-D. The closest we had come to the realization of this collective love had been sitting around Rejects HQ throwing Captain D’s clam strips at each other’s faces, and that Cole Abaius has a wicked throwing arm when it comes to hush puppies (Editor’s note: that never happened). Getting back to the movies, though, five new releases hit wide this weekend, and any one of them has the potential to be #1. Not that they are all surefire winners. The lot of them are actually the sort of offerings you would find in these dog days of Summer, that ditch between the highway of the Summer season and the corn fields of Fall and Winter. Even The Expendables has the potential to come out on top for a second weekend in a row, but, to do so, it has to contend with a whole slew of competitors.

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With a dominant weekend opening knocking girly films all over the place with its testosterone fueled hyper-aggression, there are about 35 million reasons why The Expendables will get a sequel. Stallone is already said to be plotting out the story and, if rumor is to be believed, has talked to more than one actor about joining the team on their next adventure. While we trust Sly (with everything but CGI) to cast a fantastic team, once our peanut brains get rolling we can’t stop. Personally I’ve been thinking non-stop about who I’d like to see join the team – or fight against them – in the next installment. Enough bull, let’s talk team! The current poster for the team included nine action stars, at least one of whom probably isn’t returning. So we figured that means we have to come up with at least 10 new members, and possibly a villain. Because we’re ridiculous.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Brian Salisbury joins us with his own theme music, and Robert Fure joins us with enough anger and rage to make you think you’re hearing music. We bash the idea of an animated Terminator film, sneak the word “taint” into almost every discussion, and then my guests go head-to-head in a huge action film trivia face-off. Who will emerge victorious? How many times will we mention Michael Dudikoff? You’ll have to listen to find out. Or at least skip ahead to the end where I announce the winner. Plus, we find time to review Scott Pilgrim vs The World and The Expendables.

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Boiling Point

Dear Mr. Sylvester Stallone, Long time fan, first time letter writer. I recently had the pleasure of watching your film, The Expendables, in theaters. Congratulations on an impressive opening weekend, virtually guaranteeing the green light to proceed with a sequel. I welcome another entry into this celebration of action heroes, past and present. Brutal action fun is missing from theaters these days and The Expendables looks to be the cure, much as Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti was the cure for the disease of crime.

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The Reject Report

It was presumed even if the final numbers weren’t as close as anticipated. Sorry, lovers of Lifetime Movies. The Expendables were able to break out on top above Eat Pray Love, and it looks like they’ve brought the .50 caliber guns with them. Meanwhile, further down the charts, Scott Pilgrim was barely able to edge its way into double digits. A sad opening for such a deservedly beloved film, but history may be a better prognosticator of successful film making than a weekend box office tally. We’ll get to that in a moment.

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