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The Expendables (2010)

An '80s action throwback

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Sylvester Stallone
Image credit: Karen Ballard

Details Release Date: Aug 13, 2010; Rated: R; Length: 103 Minutes; Genre: Action/Adventure; With: Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham; Distributor: Lions Gate Films

STARRING Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren
WRITTEN BY Dave Callaham, Sylvester Stallone
DIRECTED BY Sylvester Stallone

Not only does The Expendables come stocked with a who's who of muscle-bound macho men, it also features one scene that fans of '80s action movies will drool over: a tête-á-tête-á-tête between Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. ''It took probably eight months to pull it off because of everyone's schedules," says Stallone, who also directed and co-wrote the $55 million throwback to he-man classics like The Dirty Dozen and The Dogs of War. ''With Arnold especially, we'd plan a date and then there'd be a fire or a budget crisis and he'd have to go back to Sacramento.''

Stallone says the big scene serves as little more than a cameo for his two A-list pals. But, he adds, ''it really sets the hook for the movie.'' Right, the movie. Willis plays a shady mogul who hires Stallone's band of mercenaries — which includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, mixed-martial-arts champ Randy Couture, and former NFL player Terry Crews — to overthrow a Latin American dictator. In a twist that smacks of '80s box office showdowns, Schwarzenegger is Stallone's longtime rival, a fellow soldier of fortune. ''Arnold and I talked about how it takes a while to start up the engines these days,'' laughs the 63-year-old Stallone.

Statham, a current action star thanks to his Transporter and Crank franchises, plays Stallone's second-in-command. ''What I like about this story,'' Statham says, ''is that Sly doesn't want characters who are superhuman heroes. He wants characters who are weak on the inside, but when the s--- gets going, they can deal with the situation.'' As for the rating, Stallone promises a hard R. After all, just look at the cast, he says. ''These guys are born hard R!''

Originally posted Apr 21, 2010 Published in issue #1099-1100 Apr 23, 2010 Order article reprints