The Expendables

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Expendables Movie Poster Image
Legendary action cast teams up for a violent, messy muddle.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 39 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

One of the movie's major recurring themes is that these "heroes" are mercenaries; they work for money rather than for any personal beliefs. Some do express regrets for actions not taken in their pasts.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are all mercenearies, and Barney is headed down a pretty heartless path -- but then he meets a girl who reaffirms his ability to believe in something. Sandra tries to stand up for what's right, and her actions are enough to inspire Barney. Unfortunately, she also manages to get kidnapped and must be rescued by the men, so she's not as strong as she could have been.


The characters shoot, stab, impale, pummel, pound, and blow up just about everything and everyone in sight. Some of them prefer guns -- including some of the biggest, loudest weapons you've ever seen -- while others are knife experts. Many minor characters die without much consequence. Viewers see blood spurts, explosions, car chases, and burning bodies. There are severed limbs and heads and exploding torsos. A woman has bruises on her face from an abusive boyfriend, and another woman is kidnapped and tortured (with water).


No kissing or sex, but one character sulks over finding another man in his girlfriend's house. Tool brings home an attractive woman and pats her on the bottom. Some brief talk about sex and relationships. Barney becomes obsessed with a girl nearly four decades younger than he is, but the movie doesn't necessarily define this as a romantic obsession (it could be something like mutual respect).


A few uses of "f--k" and several of "s--t." Other words include "suck d--ks," "ass," "goddamn," "balls," "hell," "a--hole," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main villain is essentially a drug dealer; he controls the cocaine industry on a small island, and there are stacks of cocaine bags in one scene. One of the good guys is said to have a drug problem, though viewers never see him actually taking drugs. Two characters smoke cigars, and one character smokes a fancy pipe. Some of the villains smoke cigarettes. The main characters are seen clinking beers while flying a plane. A character brings champagne to a girl's house, but it's never opened. Another character orders a martini with olives that viewers never see.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Expendables will definitely appeal to teens (and, frankly, boys of all ages) thanks to a cast filled with living action legends like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet LiArnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. But since it's filled with over-the-top action violence -- including shootings, stabbings, severed limbs, spurting blood, explosions, and burning bodies -- it's not age-appropriate for younger viewers. There's also some violence against women, and language is strong (including both "f--k" and "s--t"), though not constant. Drugs are a key part of a subplot, and one character has a drug problem, even though viewers never see any drugs consumed. Other characters smoke cigars, pipes, and cigarettes. It has perhaps the most impressive action cast ever assembled for a movie, including some living legends, and so it will be irresistible to boys of all ages.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRarityfan November 1, 2018

It's a man's World

Good guys night out movie for the Weekend. Don't just expect something like Tree of Life. In conumerism lots and lots of old school action movies to choose... Continue reading
Adult Written byleonard p. May 26, 2014

NoN-Stop Everything

This was a very good movie with non-stop everything literally hand to hand combat, shooting, stabbing, and EXPLOSIONS.
Teen, 14 years old Written byDJ Ninja972 January 26, 2021

CSM is uncultured and disgraceful for rating this 2 stars.

This is a brilliant movie and I have no idea why CSM gave it 2 stars. The action is great, what are they on about? Yes, it has a ton of legendary action stars t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 6, 2019

Got no idea why its 16+

It's not like it has any sexual content so I have no idea why it's rated 16+!! It includes a lot of violence and harsh language but some other movies... Continue reading

What's the story?

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his team of "Expendables" (Jason Statham, Jet Li, etc.) are hired for a nearly impossible job involving a rogue CIA agent (Eric Roberts) who's taken over the drug trade on a small island and converted the local general into his puppet. Barney initially decides the job isn't worth the money, but then the general's daughter (Giselle Itié) changes his mind; she truly believes in fighting for a cause, the way Barney did before he became a mercenary for hire. So the team storms the island with full force and brutal firepower, this time for all the right reasons. Can they survive the impossible odds that await?

Is it any good?

The advertising materials for THE EXPENDABLES carry just the right kind of gleeful, confident attitude -- but sadly, Stallone's actual movie is a giant mess and a wasted opportunity. There are too many characters for any to develop any kind of depth: Lee Christmas (Statham) is upset about his girlfriend, Ying Yang (Li) has a complex about his size, Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) is on drugs and out of control, etc. Writer/director Stallone misses his chance to be playful, or -- better still -- to deliver a commentary on action movies in general.

Then there's his action footage, which is among the worst ever filmed. It's shaky and hacked up to the point of inducing headaches, and it's often difficult to tell which player is which. A fight between Jet Li and Lundgren should have been an enticing draw, but instead it's ridiculous and mushy. Fortunately, Mickey Rourke is absolutely superb in his few scenes as a burned-out former team member, ruminating about his lost path in life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's violence. How did it affect you? What impact did it have?

  • What did Barney learn over the course of the movie? Did any of the other Expendables share his journey? Are they heroes? Why or why not?

  • Many of the characters in the film smoke. How does this make them look? Do they seem cool? Do you think that was the intent?

  • The movie features some violence against women. What is the movie's attitude toward this kind of violence?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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