(PG18) US. Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren
A sluggish, witless farrago, The Expendables is about ageing fighters who remain happily out of sync with the modern world, though it’s more Wild Hogs than No Country For Old Men, concerned less with growing old gracefully than with clinging to a state of perpetual adolescence in which fast cars, tattoos and knifes all remain indescribably cool. Sly is Barney Ross, the stogie-chomping front man to a ragtag, cosily diverse unit of jaded, muscle-bound mercenaries who accept jobs that no-one else in their right mind would touch.
Stallone has lost much of the loveable-lug lustre of his early years, and spends the entire film looking like he’s watching a fly perched on the end of his nose. Settling for the most rudimentary of save-the-maiden/topple-the-dicator plotlines and wheeling out tough-guy clichés by rote, innovation and skill are notably absent. Even if Sly’s sense of irony hadn’t been lost in the mail, The Expendables would still be unsalvageable. It’s a film that exists in a limbo, where life and filmmaking appear to have ceased when Ronald Reagan left office. Still, if you like watching men with no necks thumping each other, this could be your Citizen Kane.