The Expendables

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham. Jet Li. Mickey Rourke. Terry Crews. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Bruce Willis. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dear reader, though you would be wrong, it is not ignorant of you to assume that what I am about to review is the latest Old Spice commercial.

The names mentioned above are, in fact, the entire advertising campaign of “The Expendables.” In posters, in trailers, in interviews, that is all you hear mentioned, asked, and promoted. Never before in movie history has there been a bigger opportunity to fabricate the most epic action movie of all time. And never before has there been such a more embarrassing failure to seize such an opportunity.

The producers of “The Expendables” may have been so busy casting our action heroes that they ended up forgetting to hire a credible writer and director. But no worries, because good ‘ol Stallone himself has volunteered to fill those empty, very essential roles.

What must it have been like, I thought, to spend a full day in the making of “The Expendables.” Having seen the film, I visualize hours and hours spent setting up explosives, loading guns, and rehearsing fist fights. And if there was time to spare, maybe a few lines of script were written.

I must now state the observable reality that Mr. Stallone can neither direct nor write. He seems to struggle with scenes featuring more than two actors, and no guns. I fear the sequel will include more action stars, like Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme. But I assume that they won’t be available because they would be too busy continuing to dominate the video stores near you.

For all its faults, “The Expendables” does have its share of surprises. I confess that I did not expect to see the drastic effects of Botox in this film. We thought this display of denial was over after “Sex and the City 2”, but Stallone’s suspicious and unnatural smile begs to differ.

As I watched “The Expendables”, waiting for it to end, my thoughts can be squeezed into a single question: Why is this piece of junk enjoying the status of a summer blockbuster when it only deserves to be premiered on television? Finally, the movie ended, and the credits rolled, and I got the answer: Stallone. Statham. Li. Rourke. Crews. Austin. Willis. Schwarzenegger.

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The Expendables