The Expendables is a 2010 American ensemble action film written by David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone, and directed by Stallone, who also starred in the lead role. The film co-stars Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke.
The film was released in the United States on August 13, 2010. It is the first installment in The Expendables film series. This was Dolph Lundgren's first theatrically released film since 1995's Johnny Mnemonic, and Steve Austin's first and last theatrical release film until 2013's Grown Ups 2.
The film is about a group of elite mercenaries tasked with a mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator whom they soon discover to be a mere puppet controlled by a ruthless ex-CIA officer James Munroe. It pays tribute to the blockbuster action films of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was distributed by Lionsgate.
The Expendables received mixed reviews, praising the action scenes, but criticizing the lesser elements of the story. However, it was commercially successful, opening at number one at the box office in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India. A sequel was released on August 17, 2012.
The Expendables, a group of elite mercenaries based in New Orleans, deploy to the Gulf of Aden to save hostages on a vessel from Somali pirates. The team consists of leader Barney Ross, blades specialist Lee Christmas, martial artist Yin Yang, Gunner Jensen, weapons specialist Hale Caesar, and demolitions expert Toll Road. Jensen instigates a firefight, causing casualties for the pirates. He then tries to hang a pirate, but Yang stops him when Ross and the team discourage it. Ross reluctantly discharges him from the team. Later, Christmas is upset to discover his girlfriend, Lacy, has left him for another man.
Ross and rival Trench Mauser visit "Mr. Church" for a mission. Trench passes the contract to Ross, which is to overthrow dictator General Garza in Vilena, an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Ross and Christmas fly to Vilena for undercover reconnaissance and meet their contact, Sandra, but are discovered. It is revealed that ex-CIA officer James Munroe is keeping Garza in power as a figurehead for his own profiteering operations, while Sandra is revealed to be Garza's daughter. Ross aborts, but Sandra refuses to leave Vilena. Meanwhile, Jensen approaches Munroe to help and Garza is angered further when Sandra is waterboarded for information by Munroe. Meanwhile, Lacy has been physically abused by her new man, so Christmas beats him and his friends, revealing what he does for a living. Ross and the group discover that Church is a CIA operative and the real target is Munroe, who has gone rogue and joined forces with Garza to keep the drug money that funds the CIA to himself, but the CIA cannot afford a mission to kill one of their own directly because of bad publicity. Ross meets tattoo expert and friend Tool to express his feelings. Tool makes a confession about letting a woman commit suicide instead of saving her. Ross is then motivated to go back for Sandra alone, but Yang accompanies him. Jensen and hired men pursue them on the road, ending in an abandoned warehouse, where Yang and Jensen fight a second time. Ross shoots Jensen when he attempts to impale Yang on a pipe. Jensen makes amends and gives the layout of Garza's palace. Ross boards the plane with Yang and finds the rest of the team waiting.
They then infiltrate Garza's compound. Thinking Munroe hired the team to kill him, Garza has his soldiers' faces painted, preparing them for a fight. The team plants explosives throughout the site but Ross, while saving Sandra, is captured by Munroe's henchmen. The team saves him and kills the Brit, but is pinned down by Garza's men as Paine wrestles Ross. Caesar fights back and Paine escapes. Garza finally stands up to Munroe, ordering him out and returning his money. Instead, as Garza rallies his men against the Americans, Munroe kills him and escapes with Paine and Sandra. Garza's men open fire against the team, who fight their way through, detonating the explosives and destroying the compound. Toll kills Paine by burning him alive while Ross and Caesar manage to destroy the helicopter before Munroe can escape. Ross and Christmas catch up to Munroe, killing him and saving Sandra. Later, Ross gives his mission reward to Sandra to restore Vilena.
In the final scene, the team has returned home and are celebrating at Tool's tattoo parlor with the recovering and now redeemed Jensen. Christmas and Tool play a game of knife throwing, during which Christmas composes a mocking poem about Tool, then throws a bullseye from outside the building.
- Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
- Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
- Jet Li as Yin Yang
- Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
- Eric Roberts as James Munroe
- Randy Couture as Toll Road
- Steve Austin as Dan Paine
- David Zayas as General Garza
- Giselle Itié as Sandra
- Charisma Carpenter as Lacy
- Gary Daniels as Lawrence Sparks / The Brit
- Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
- Mickey Rourke as Tool
- Bruce Willis as Mr. Church
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench Mauser
In mid-2005, writer David Callaham submitted the first draft of a mercenary-inspired action film titled "Barrow" to Warner Bros., as part of his "blind commitment" deal with the studio at the time. Callaham revised the script two more times and submitted his third final revision in early 2006. Having expressed interest in doing an ensemble film, Sylvester Stallone reviewed Callaham's third/final revised draft of Barrow and used it as a "starting point" for The Expendables.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was personally offered a role by Stallone, but turned it down because he felt there was no substance or development to the character. Stallone said that Van Damme told him that he should "be trying to save people in South Central." At the premiere of the film, Stallone claimed to have been speaking to Van Damme over the phone and had said, "I told you!", to which Van Damme concurred and expressed his regret over not participating. Van Damme would later appear as the main antagonist, Jean Vilain, in the film's sequel.
The role of Hale Caesar was initially conceived as a role for Stallone's Demolition Man co-star Wesley Snipes. Snipes turned down the role because of his tax issues, and not able to leave the United States without the court's approval. It was later rewritten for Forest Whitaker. Due to a scheduling conflict prior to filming, Whitaker was replaced by 50 Cent before the part of Hale Caesar finally went to former NFL player Terry Crews.
By May 2009, the script had undergone a number of rewrites. Stallone's Demolition Man co-star Sandra Bullock was rumored to have a role in the film, but revealed that she did not even know about the project. Despite the news, she did express interest in working in another action film and would have liked to appear in the film, depending on the storyline.
The role of the man who hires the Expendables, Mr. Church, was difficult to cast. Schwarzenegger was offered that role, but instead appeared as fellow mercenary leader Trench. The role was then offered to Stallone's Tango & Cash co-star Kurt Russell, whose agent replied that he was not interested in "ensemble acting at the moment". Stallone spent several months after principal photography determined to find a big action name for the part. Rumors suggested that the role had been offered to friend and fellow former Planet Hollywood co-owner Bruce Willis, who was busy filming Cop Out. Willis' casting as Mr. Church was confirmed by August 2009, as was the fact that he would appear in a scene with both Stallone and Schwarzenegger.
Film production began on March 3, 2009, with a budget of $82 million. Filming commenced 25 days later in Rio de Janeiro and other locations in Brazil, including Mangaratiba, Niteroi, Guanabara Bay, Colônia Juliano Moreira and Parque Lage. Filming originally ended on April 25 but was continued on May 11, in Elmwood and New Orleans, Louisiana, including the French Quarter, South Peters Street, Fort Macomb, Claiborne Avenue and the Interstate 10 overpass. Filming officially ended on July 1, but on October 27 there was a pick-up scene at a church in Los Angeles, California featuring Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis (the latter two doing the scene without compensation, according to Stallone in the Blu-ray Disc director commentary). On June 2, West Coast Customs Street Customs built three customized 1955 Ford F100s for Sylvester Stallone for the film. One was built for a crash scene, the second for green screen, and the third for Stallone to keep. "The Expendables has a seventy million dollar budget," Stallone's Rocky IV co-star Dolph Lundgren says: "It's an old-school, kick-ass action movie where people are fighting with knives and shooting at each other." The flying boat used for filming is a Grumman HU-16 Albatross and the ship used as a setting in the opening scene was a Russian SA-15 class Arctic cargo ship Igarka.
The film had an original scheduled release date set at April 23, 2010, but was later pushed back four months until August 13, to extend production time. On March 17, 2010, the official international poster for the film was released.
A promo trailer (aimed at industry professionals) was leaked online in August 2009. Sometime in October, nearly two months after the promo trailer was leaked, it was officially released online. The promo trailer was edited by Stallone and it was shown at the Venice Film Festival. On April 1, 2010, the official theatrical trailer for the film was released. The film had its red carpet Hollywood premiere on August 3, 2010. The grand premiere of the film was held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada on August 10, 2010.
The theatrical cut of The Expendables was released on DVD/Blu-ray Disc on November 23, 2010. The Blu-ray Disc is a 3-disc combo pack.
An Extended Director's Cut of the film was meant to be out for an early 2011 DVD/Blu-ray Disc release, but was first released on cable television instead. The Extended Director's Cut was released on Blu-ray Disc on December 13, 2011. A 90-minute documentary called Inferno: The Making of The Expendables was released exclusively to the theatrical cut's Blu-ray release.
Extended Director's CutEdit
The Extended Director's Cut premiered on Epix on May 30, 2011 for the Memorial Day weekend. The Extended Cut contains roughly 11 minutes of additional, never-before-seen footage and reintroduces the Shinedown song "Diamond Eyes" to the soundtrack, both during the climactic shootout and again over the end credits, and the song "Sinners Prayer" by Sully Erna in the new opening credits.
The film made its US debut at 3,270 theaters with approximately 4,300 screens, which earned it the #10 spot on the list of the "Biggest Independent Releases of All Time" at Box Office Mojo and the #16 spot on their list of top opening weekends for August. It earned $34.8 million in its opening weekend and took the #1 position in the U.S. box office. On the day of its release, the film earned $13.3 million in sales, exceeding the $9.7 million sum from the debut of the last previous summer action film The A-Team.
Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo stated that the film "took a commanding lead in its debut", compared to competing films Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Ben Fritz of the Los Angeles Times stated that the "over-the-top shoot-'em-up" opened to a "very strong" reception. As well, he described it as "a crowd-pleaser even if critics didn't take to it." Research by Lionsgate found that between 38% and 40% of the film's viewers were female. The results were unexpected, for a film thought to have limited appeal to female filmgoers.
The Expendables remained at the top position in the U.S. box office during its second weekend, earning a weekend total of nearly $17 million.
Critical response Edit
Template:Anchor The film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows that 41% of critics gave the film a positive review based upon reviews by 192 critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the film has received a mean score of 45, based on 35 reviews. CinemaScore polls, however, reflect solid audience approval with a B+ average grade.
Some reviews praised the film highly. The Hollywood Reporter stated that "the body count is high and the personalities click in this old-school testosterone fest," and Boxoffice Magazine stated that "it's filled with literally explosive excitement" and that "a who's who of classic action stars light up the screen for pure combustible entertainment in Sly Stallone's The Expendables, a sort of Dirty Dozen meets Inglourious Basterds—and then some…" Richard Corliss of Time added that "what you will find is both familiar in its contours and unique in its casting." Peter Paras of E! Online said that the film is "peppered with funny dialogue, epic brawls and supersize explosions," and that "The Expendables is the adrenaline shot the summer of 2010 needs," and the Boston Globe stated that the film is "a lot of unholy fun". Other film review sites and magazines supplied decent feedback such as Empire Magazine's Genevieve Harrison who delivered the film a 3/5 stars rating and remarked that the film was "More The Wild Geese than The Wild Bunch, The Expendables is not a wasted opportunity, but more one not fully exploited. For action fans raised on Commando and Cobra, the ensemble cast and ’80s-style violence will be pure wish-fulfilment — but even they could have wished for something better."
Some highly negative reviews appeared. In The New York Post, Lou Lumenick labeled it "the brain-dead male equivalent of Sex and the City 2", and in The New Yorker, Anthony Lane called it "breathtakingly sleazy in its lack of imagination". Peter Travers, writing for Rolling Stone, said, "Stallone forgets to include non-spazzy direction, a coherent plot, dialogue that actors can speak without cringing, stunts that don't fizzle, blood that isn't digital and an animating spirit that might convince us to give a damn." Claudia Puig, writing the review for USA Today, summed the film up as a "sadistic mess of a movie".
Mickey Rourke's performance was given special recognition by some critics. In the Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips said, "Rourke delivers a monologue about his time in Bosnia, and the conviction the actor brings to the occasion throws the movie completely out of whack. What's actual acting doing in a movie like this?" Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised Rourke for the same scene, stating, "He's amazing…a great actor."
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