A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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 Li, Arnold 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.
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?
- In theaters: August 13, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: November 23, 2010
- Cast: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone
- Director: Sylvester Stallone
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.