The Film (3.25/5)
There’s nothing in the world quite like a lot of iconic actors from the eighties and nineties assembled together to make a slam-bang in your face put your brain aside action thriller. The man who thrilled us all for decades as Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone, stars (and also directed) as Barney Ross in The Expendables. He heads a group of elite mercenaries who are called into action to stop a drug operation happening in Vilena, an island on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Ross gets contacted by a member of the CIA, a “Mr. Church” (Bruce Willis in an uncredited cameo) and gets briefed during a meeting about the drug operation, which is run by General Garza (David Zayas, The Savages). Ross has a team who have some amusing names; they are Lee Christmas (Jason Statham, The Killer Elite), Yin Yang (Jet Li, One Upon a Time in China), Toll Road (Randy Couture, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews, Balls of Fury) go to Vilena, where they are met by Sandra (Giselle Itie, Mandrake: The Movie) as their guide to take out Garza, but then discover there is another man also heading the operation, James Monroe (Eric Roberts, The Ambalance) a former member of the CIA who has gone rogue, which is why Stallone’s team was used as opposed to traditional American forces. This mission is to be an under the radar operation to avoid investigations and scandals.
The Expendables is a spectacular action film, filled with a lot of relentless, practically non-stop violent fighting sequences, car chases, and high octane explosions. Director Stallone holds nothing back, moving the film along at a feverish edge of your seat pace. The acting is okay for this kind of movie, but the characters are too one dimensional. The characters are basically over the top testosterone tough guy “bad-ass” types with a whole lot of attitude, kicks and punches without much else. Character depth is more or less non-existent. One of the characters who is also part of Barney Ross’ team but was not used on the mission was Gunner Jensen (veteran action star Dolph Lundgren, I Come in Peace, The Punisher). It was fun to see Stallone and Lundgren together again after they were on opposite side two decades earlier in Rocky IV. It was also a lot of fun to see to former sports entertainers go at in with Randy Couture (former UFC Champion) and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (former WWE, then called WWF champion). Austin plays Paine, the main, number one strong-arm for Monroe. His former pro wrestling days do come into play during his fight scenes.
In additional to the uncredited cameo by Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California Governor and The Terminator himself appears in the same short but important scene that Willis is also in. Another veteran actor Mickey Rourke, has a small part as *Tool* the mentor of Ross and his squad who has a hangout where you can ride Harley Davidson motorcycles and get tattoos.
One reviewer said about this movie, “you don’t need a very good story-line as long as the movie is entertaining as hell”. You don’t? Well just imagine how much better The Expendables would have been if the characters were actually developed better, of if some of the sub-plots involving a love triangle were better developed and the characters weren’t one dimensional tough guy killers. This movie, though very entertaining its realm of fighting and gun violence, would be impossible to watch if the story and its characters were stronger.
The Expendables is presented in its original letterboxed 2:35:1 aspect ratio, in 2160P, 4K UHD and to say it is visually stunning is an understatement. UHD has taken an already beautiful looking picture, in HD, to the extreme with an even higher contrast; the film now looks more robust, more detailed than ever. Thanks to the HDR encoding, daylight scenes with all the exteriors, including shots at the gulf itself, are just that much more astonishing, spectacular and fantastic, looking brighter, clearer, and crisper than ever. The colors are incredibly vivid; greens, reds and blues all look still look very natural without an oversaturated look. The close-ups of the characters show incredible details such as seeing some white hairs in Stallone’s predominantly black goatee. Flesh tones look spot-on with skin pores, scar tissue and other skin details whether it’s something you want to look at or not.. Black levels, night scenes look fantastic as well as they do not hinder many of the action scenes shot in the darkness. There are a couple of explosions which happen during a nighttime sequence; and the oranges and yellows that follow those explosions are not subdued at all. Overall the colors look very balanced and I was very pleased with the viewing experience.
The audio used for The Expendables is English Dolby Atmos, TrueHD Multichannel. Those same explosions, gunfights, punches that were a joy to see, were also a joy to listen to. The audio was crystal clear without any drop-offs. Dialog, planes flying, punches, bones breaking, knives being punctured into people and the great musical numbers, all at least thirty years old, came in loud and clear.
There are no supplements on the UHD disc, which seems to be commonplace, but lucky for us, UHD releases tend to be UHD / Blu-ray combos. The extras from Blu-ray are still included on this Blu-ray disc, except for the Ultimate Recon Mode. On the Blu-ray there is the audio commentary by Director Stallone, Inferno: The Making of The Expendables featurette, From The Ashes : Post Production (more background information of the film) , a 5 minute Gag Reel, a deleted scene, and a Marketing Archive which contains the trailer, TV spots, and PR Posters
While lacking in character development, but with an overabundance of hard-hitting, gory, explosive action, The Expendables is indeed a fun, entertaining movie if nothing else. This new UHD release, has given this movie the best viewing experience possible. And because it’s a UHD / Blu-ray combo, you don’t miss out any of the extras which are on the Blu-ray disc.