The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut isn’t great but still a functional action-thriller bringing together manly men on the same screen together. On that front, the film succeeds and is at least a fun way to spend 110-minutes. The Blu-ray has solid audio and video transfers while the features are pretty good, though the best one was ported over from the previous release.
Genre(s): Action, Drama
Lionsgate | Unrated – 114 min. – $24.99 | December 13, 2011
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Writer(s): David Callaham (story), David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, David Zayas, Giselle Itie, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke
Theatrical Release Date: August 13, 2010
Features: Intro, Featurettes, Music Video, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
The Expendables was billed as the man’s man flick, so much testosterone that the entire universe might explode and end mankind as we know it. And why shouldn’t it when you got 80s/90s icons Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke together with current muscles Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin and Terry Crews along with the short but dangerous martial artist Jet Li into the mix. Oh, and add in smarmy Eric Roberts and superstars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis into the mix and you’ve got something going… Well, when it comes to movies, the build-up often is better than the final product.
The film follows mercenaries Barney Ross (SYLVESTER STALLONE), Lee Christmas (JASON STATHAM) whose specialty are knives, martial artist Yin Yang (JET LI), demolitions expert Toll Road (RANDY COUTURE) and weapons specialist Hale Caesar (TERRY CREWS) on their latest assignment – from the mysterious Mr. Church (BRUCE WILLIS), who probably works for the CIA – to the fictional island country of Vilena. There, they are to assassinate brutal dictator General Garza (DAVID ZAYAS of “Dexter”).
Doing some reconnaissance, Ross and Christmas meet a local woman named Sandra (GISELLE ITIE) who gives them a tour of the land. During this scouting, they discover that Garza is merely a puppet and rogue CIA agent James Munroe (ERIC ROBERTS) is pulling the strings, with henchmen Paine (STEVE AUSTIN) and The Brit (GARY DANIELS) doing the dirty work, using the land and its people to grow drugs and take in the massive profits.
Unbeknownst to either, Sandra is in fact Garza’s estranged daughter. After a shootout and car chase through the small island, Ross and Christmas barely make it out, but despite their insistence, Sandra chose to remain behind. Of course, like any good mercenaries, they make a statement by blowing away some of Garza’s military in a massive gun and firestorm.
When I first saw The Expendables, I thought it had a few things going from a decent if not obvious story, some good action scenes, and a few OK performances (Stallone, Statham, Rourke) mixed in with some bad ones (Lundgren and Couture mainly). But it’s not the performances that were the selling point, it was the ensemble and I think on that level the movie was at least serviceable.
Sylvester Stallone as a director is efficient, nothing more, nothing less. Stallone has shown that he’s a good enough director when the script is there (Rocky II, Rocky Balboa and Rambo) and when it’s not (see: Staying Alive and his debut, Paradise Alley), for The Expendables he does a good/respectable job giving the ensemble their due/fight scenes but otherwise it’s nothing special.
The cast does their best with a limited script and especially limited screen time with, aside from Stallone, Jason Statham getting the most character development followed by Mickey Rourke (whose role is there as a mirror for Ross) and the others get their time to kick ass in their own ways and styles. It’s kind of the macho version of Ocean’s Eleven where Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty (Pitt) get the most development while everyone else fulfilled a specific function.
In terms of this “Extended Director’s Cut”, despite it being around 10-minutes longer, I felt it was a tighter film with a better sense of drama and an all around better flow throughout. There are several scenes that have been cut, re-cut or added in (mainly character moments) and even the opening credits are new with the great song, “Sinner’s Prayer” playing as the camera pans over each character. Having said all that, I still don’t think this is a particularly great film and even though others felt Gunnar’s turn was handled better; it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when he turns up at the end…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
This release comes with a Digital Copy download code (compatible with iTunes) and, like the other version, a glossy slip cover.
Introduction (2:32; HD) – Sylvester Stallone provides an explanation for this cut and why he’s more proud of it versus the theatrical version.
Action: The Expendables (20:33; HD) is an EPK featurette that originally aired on Spike TV and features interviews with the cast about the movie. This was only made to advertise the movie so you’re not going to get anything in-depth.
Sylvester Stallone: A Director in Action (20:21; HD) – Intermixed with behind-the-scenes footage from a variety of his films, Stallone sits down for an honest talk about directing and the challenges it presented. The featurette takes us back to his directorial debut on Paradise Alley, its failure into the successful Rocky sequels, the lauded Staying Alive and beyond. This is truly an engaging featurette worth checking out.
Inferno: The Making of The Expendables (1:31:42; HD) is a four-part documentary chronicling every aspect of the production. It begins with Stallone’s inspirations and then goes into behind-the-scenes footage, introductions to the cast, etc. It’s a well done feature that, like the previous featurette, is well worth checking out if you haven’t already (it was included on the theatrical version).
Also included is the Music Video (3:47; HD) to “Sinner’s Prayer” by Sully Erna. I normally would recommend skipping these, but I kind dug this song; great mix of rock and folk.
Previews – Set Up, Conan the Barbarian, Rambo BD, Pulp Fiction BD
VIDEO – 4.0/5
The Expendables basically has the same video transfer as the theatrical version. The movie is presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and 1080p high-def transfer. Given the movie has a darker tone to it, the black levels immediately jump and out and are, for the most part, impressive. I didn’t notice much in the way of artifacting and it doesn’t seem the levels were crushed. The color palette is kept to the minimum never really straying from darks but even so, they seem to be well balanced. Detail levels look pretty good although nothing particularly jaw-dropping.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc comes with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and as one would expect, this is a whammy of a track. Obviously it majorly benefits from the numerous action scenes and sequences which certainly sound incredible and will give your home theater system a workout, but even the quieter moments, which there are a few, also provide clear dialogue levels. I’m not prepared to say it’s the perfect HD track as it seems to be missing some subtleties, but I don’t think you will be disappointed.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut isn’t great but still a functional action-thriller bringing together manly men on the same screen together. On that front, the film succeeds and is at least a fun way to spend 110-minutes. The Blu-ray has solid audio and video transfers while the features are pretty good, though the best one was ported over from the previous release.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.