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Expendables, The

7/10

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eric Roberts, Gabrielle Itiť, Charisma Carpenter

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Say what you like about Stallone and his immobile lower lip, but he certainly knows how to choreograph and edit action. You can't hear much of the dialogue in this musclemen's last stand, but Stallone, Statham and Li never did major in clarity and in any case it scarcely matters.

More than that, we should wonder at writer-director Stallone and his producers actually getting Statham, Li, Lundgren, Roberts (the villain) and Rourke in one film, with cameos from Willis as the CIA man in back of Stallone's gang of mercenaries, and Governor Schwarzenegger as the power behind the throne.

'What's his problem?' asks Willis, as Arnie departs a gang-of-three summit meeting. Responds Sly: 'He wants to be President' - a line that got the laugh of the night. Stallone tried for Van Damme and Seagal, too, but their absence is only their loss.

Much of the explosive mayhem that follows is set on an island, presumably in the Caribbean, where the people are oppressed and in some cases eliminated by the army, hundreds of whose soldiers are destined to fall in a hail of bullets and knives when Stallone and his guys invade.

Yes, I know: same old same old. But it's not originality that the film's target audience is calling for - just snapped limbs, broken necks, decapitations and villains blown to smithereens. And there's plenty of that: roll on Expendables II.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Color by FotoKem/Megalab/Deluxe .
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 13 Aug 2010