Stallone’s mega starred action film The Expendables is back with a newly cut version of the film personally done by Stallone himself. He starts out the disc with an intro about how feelings change during and after production and how he truly believes that this cut is much better than the previous theatrical cut.
Some might ask how you can change an epic action picture to make it even more entertaining and others will hopefully be looking for a film worthy of its title and cast. This new extended director’s cut doesn’t really drastically change the film. People leaning on either side of the fence will continue to either like or hate the film and all Stallone has really done has adjusted parts of the tone for a more serious approach, but then he follows those scenes with over-the-top action and violence.
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is a hired mercenary. His team consists of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren). They’re the toughest of the tough and there isn’t a mission too high or low that they won’t accept.
Their latest mission comes from an individual known as Church (Bruce Willis). The task is to take out a rogue CIA agent (Eric Roberts) and a military leader on a Latin American island. After checking out the island before accepting the mission Barney and Lee run into an innocent young girl who’s trapped in the middle of a dictator/drug lord. The country is slowly getting torn apart and each rotting day brings it closer to never being able to be saved.
Barney has a sudden change of heart and decides that while the mission isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be the girl is still worth saving and the town will be better off without guns and conflict. His team loads up on ammo and knives and sets off on another mission worthy of telling the grand kids.
The Expendables is only as serious as you want it to be. If you’re going in expecting a cheesy over-the-top action flick with dozens of washed up action stars from the past 30 to 40 years then you’ll probably find some enjoyment out of it. Stallone and Statham are the two main characters that make the films story a little easier to digest, but everyone else makes the action scenes entertaining.
The problem with a film this size is the payoff. When you market a film to be the greatest action picture of all time with the biggest cast of all time then you better deliver. Stallone’s previous film Rambo was a bloody good time and it proved that he still has it in him to wield a massive gun and personally destroy a whole country. The blood and action was on high and the story was just the right amount of serious.
Somewhere in the writing process The Expendables dropped the ball hard. The action starts out in the manner you’d expect, with a bad guy getting his whole upper body ripped off via shotgun blast by Dolph Lundgren, but then the film settles down on such a ridiculous story. Stallone’s character all of a sudden has a conflict. He now feels bad for innocent people in poor countries and the rest of the gang sort of laughs at him. Stallone tries to inject emotion and heart into very heartless and light characters.
It almost comes off as insulting. No one gives a damn about the story or its characters when you’re watching a film also starring Steve Austin and Randy Couture. People want a high body count and buckets of blood. Stallone and co. deliver on that promise during the ending 35 minutes of pure insanity, but it takes way too long to get there. The Expendables comes with too much baggage you have to sit through to find any sort of enjoyment.
The new extended director’s cut provides tons of tiny altered takes or shots of scenes from the theatrical cut, while adding a few minutes here and there. Most of the film is in fact just changed around, but there are a few moments where Stallone tries giving some more depth to his characters. It makes the story work better, but at the end of the day it doesn’t help the film be an action masterpiece. He also changes the opening and ending songs, which are so awful they almost weigh down all of the positive changes. The tone becomes laughably bad.
The Expendables is the total opposite of what it should have been. It makes you sit through a story consisting of dozens of horrible to average actors only to get a last act of pure action. It should have been light on the story and heavy on the action, but somewhere in between casting Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone forgot what film he was making.
The 1080p video transfer offered here is almost the exact same as the previous theatrical version, with the addition of the new footage. The film is very sharp and features some strong black levels, which really helps due to the dark nature of most of the film. Detail and color poke their heads during the brighter daytime scenes and all of the explosions are surely to impress when they come blasting onto the screen. It’s not the best transfer, but it’s a very consistent one.
The same can be said for the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Track. It comes exploding onto Blu-Ray within the opening minutes and it rarely simmers down. This track is mixed to perfection with each and every bullet flying at you from a separate channel. Action films sometimes get lazy when it comes to evening out the audio, but The Expendables is the cream of the crop. Dialogue can be heard on the front stretch of channels while the rear ones provide you with the much needed action and thrills. Explosions and gunfire will rock your system, leaving your neighbors with another restless night as you watch the film!
The Expendables comes to Blu-Ray with a very tame batch of short features. The only one that packs a punch was previously released on the theatrical version of the film. Check out the list below.
- Introduction by Sylvester Stallone (HD)
- Action: The Expendables (HD)
- Sinner’s Prayer Music Video by Sully Erna (HD)
- Sylvester Stallone: A Director in Action (HD)
- Inferno: The Making of The Expendables (HD)
- Digital Copy
Those looking for the best cut of The Expendables might need to ask themselves one important question. Do you care about the story? If you don’t, then skip over this new release. All Stallone really does is add some detail to characters that were quickly touched up on in the theatrical cut. If you want a simple action film and you don’t care about the characters than stick with theatrical cut, but if you enjoyed the film, but you wished he didn’t cruise over everyone so fast than check out the extended directors cut. It doesn’t make the movie that much better, but it does provide the film with a more serious tone that some might enjoy.
I was personally disappointed with the theatrical cut and I thought the extended directors cut was even worse because of how serious the tone became. The opening and ending music changes are cringe-worthy and laughably bad. I never once felt the need to care for the characters and the extended directors cut felt like an even bigger burden to carry. The video and audio are top notch duplicates from the previous release and the disc includes a few more special features not on the last release.
The Expendables (Extended Director's Cut) Blu-Ray offers tons of changed shots and extended scenes that greatly enhance the film.