THE EXPENDABLES – Review by Susan Granger

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This latest installment in Sylvester Stallone’s action franchise is filled with beefy heroes, a really bad guy and an endless barrage of bullets as the murder and mayhem continues. Read on…

The opening sequence features a helicopter-versus-train battle in which Barney Ross (Stallone) and what’s left of his crew help a fellow mercenary, a knife expert known as Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes), escape from incarceration. Barney needs Doc to help him intercept an arms deal in Somalia. But their mission fizzles when they discover the bigwig brokering the deal is Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former Expendable whom Barney thought he’d killed when he went rogue. Determined to take down sociopathic Stonebanks, Barney dismisses his former crew (Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jason Statham. Jet Li) and – with the help of Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), hires younger, more agile and tech-savvy newbies (Kellan Lutz, Antonio Banderas, Glen Powell, mixed-martial-arts champ Ronda Rousey, boxer Victor Ortiz). Ferried by competitor Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and joined by Agent Drummer (Harrison Ford), who wants Stonebanks to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, they’re off to do the CIA’s dirty work once again. Only, things don’t go exactly as planned.
Co-screenwriter Stallone make sure every action icon gets a token scene, while director Patrick Hughes propels the formulaic soldiers-of-fortune story. If you’re curious why Bruce Willis is a ‘no show’ after appearing in the first two movies, apparently, he wanted $4 million for four days’ work; Stallone offered him $3 million, so Willis walked. But Wesley Snipes is back, self-referentially alluding to his real-life issue with tax evasion. Stallone uses his usual three expressions: sorrowful, strained and sneering, so it’s up to loquacious Antonio Banderas to enliven the tedium.
FYI: Pirates were able to steal a print, most likely from an independent special-effects finishing firm, releasing it on the Internet in July so 2.2 million fans were able to download it free.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Expendables” is a tired 3, filled with punishing chase scenes and repetitive gunfire.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.