No, this is not a Fan Made Poster
If testosterone could mate with an explosion, this movie would be its offspring.
— IGN.com preview
A modest action movie franchise that intentionally contains pretty much every trope associated with 1980s action movies
After the success of Rocky Balboa
(2008), Sylvester Stallone
became interested in making a film that brought together as many action stars he could get
with careers ranging from the 80's to modern day. The basic premise goes along with some grizzled mercenaries based out of New Orleans who call themselves "The Expendables." Stallone leads them as Barney Ross, with Jason Statham
as Christmas Lee, his closest friend. Rounding out the rest of the team is Jet Li
as Ying Yang, Dolph Lundgren
as Gunnar Jensen, Randy Couture
as Toll Road and Terry Crews as Hale Caesar. And, most famously, Stallone's box office rival Arnold Schwarzenegger
plays Barney's Friendly Enemy
Trench, who leads a rival team. Outside of that core group, many other stars have come and gone through the various movies, some as new allies and others as villains.
The Expendables (2010)
Opening with a mission to deal with boat hijackers, Gunnar is expelled from the team for his unpredictable behavior. Ross gets a new job from the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis
). He hires the team to go into a Banana Republic
take down a dictator's (David Zayas) regime. After a disastrous scouting mission, they learn Church is connected to the CIA and their real job is to upset the profiteering from a rogue CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts), who has a particularly nasty bodyguard named Paine ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin
). They agree the mission is suicide and doing CIA dirty work, but their contact Sandra (Giselle Itie) was captured by Munroe and they feel obligated to rescue her
, and Gunnar is not happy with being rejected from the team
The Expendables 2 (2012)
Opening with a mission to rescue a Chinese diplomat and introducing the new member to the team Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), Church confronts Barney and demands a new mission to redeem him from the issue with how he handled the job in the previous movie. They are paired with Maggie Chan (Yu Nan) to recover sensitive information regarding a secret plutonium stockpile in Eastern Europe. Their mission is upset by Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme
), a terrorist for hire leading his own team including his second in command Hector (Scott Adkins). Vilain humiliates the team and leaves one of them dead, with the rest vowing revenge. They chase after Vilain to stop his plans and are joined by lone wolf ally Booker (Chuck Norris
) to finish the job.
The Expendables 3 (2014)
A third movie includes Antonio Banderas
, Wesley Snipes
, Harrison Ford
, Kelsey Grammer
, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, and Glen Powell joining the cast, and Mel Gibson
confirmed as the film's villain. In this outing, Barney is forced to recruit both old and new allies alike to take down his former partner and co-founder of the Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks
, who is determined to wipe the team out once and for all.
The third movie was leaked online
three weeks prior to its official release, with several thousand people torrenting it. There is no word yet on whether or not Lionsgate will be taking any legal action, although some are suspecting the company of leaking the film themselves, citing the fact that it mysteriously leaked right before the San Diego Comic Con, and that people at the convention were saying it's the best in the series - and also that this was a way of showing people the film before the critics had a chance to look at it.
This series is the closest we'll probably get to TV Tropes, the Movie
An all-female Spin-Off is also being planned
. Gina Carano
, Katee Sackhoff
, and Sharni Vinson
have signed up thus far, and the director has expressed an interest in such names as Sigourney Weaver
and Linda Hamilton
. Also thrown into the mix: Milla Jovovich
, Meryl Streep
and Charlize Theron
open/close all folders
This series as a whole provides examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Ross chops off a guard's hand and beheads another with his knife.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
- In the first film, Tool (Mickey Rourke) has a scene regarding a woman he could have saved in Bosnia, and the personal cost of not doing so. He laments that if he saved her, he could have saved what remained of his soul. His story inspires Barney Ross (Stallone) to go back to Vilena. It's probably the most powerful moment of the film.
- In 2, the scene where Billy the Kid tells the story of losing several of his comrades during a firefight in Afghanistan, then returning to base to discover that a stray dog he'd adopted had been shot due to the base commander deciding to disallow animals on base. Billy's funeral also counts, with Barney reading the letter Billy had written to his girlfriend, then asking aloud why so many people who deserve to live get killed, while people who deserve to die survive repeatedly.
- Action Girl:
- Action Heroes: Very much so.
- Advertised Extra:
- Commercials for the first film paid special attention to the scene between Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger, as it was the first time the trio had appeared on-screen together. Of course, that's the only scene that Willis and Schwarzenegger appear in.
- The sequel included more action scenes for them. On the other hand, there's the example under Put on a Bus.
- The Alleged Car: The planes in the first and second movies. Especially in the second.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses the song "Kizuna" by Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi.
- Anti-Hero: The Expendables. Mostly pragmatic or unscrupulous heroes, (the "payback" types).
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy:
- "The Brit" is a bit of a dick. Also Lee (loves his knife-throwing a bit too much) and Yang ("I would have win!") are rare heroic examples.
- Doc in the third film, to the point of developing a rivalry with Christmas.
- Artistic License – Physics:
- The Expendables wear magical body armor that regularly shrugs off a lot of rounds that should penetrate it. They also suffer no ill-effects as per genre conventions (no broken ribs or severe blunt force injuries that come with being shot, even wearing armor, in real life).
- Audible Sharpness: Just about every time any blade is drawn or moved slightly through the air, there's always that familiar zzing sound.
- Awesome McCoolname: Hale Caesar, Toll Road and Doctor Death.
- Back-to-Back Badasses:
- Ross and Lee.
- Galgo and Luna in 3.
- Badass: Just about every character played by a "name" actor.
- Badass Boast:
- In the first one:
- Barney's "We are the shadow, the smoke in your eyes, the ghosts that hide in the night", which only appears in the trailers, and is the first line in the song "Diamond Eyes" by Shinedown, which was commissioned by Stallone himself. Too bad the song doesn't appear in the film, either (The extended cut fixes both issues, however).
- "We will kill this American disease!"
- "If you fuck with us in any way... my people will come and get your people."
- In the second one:
- "If she returns any different from the way she went, you and your bunch of psychotic mercenary cur will never be seen again in the face of the Earth."
- "Are you afraid of me?" "No." "You really should be."
- Badass Crew: The Expendables.
- Badass Grandpa: Kind of the point of the series.
- One of the first images of the movie was a shot of Stallone's character, barechested and covered in tattoos. Nearly everyone was slack-jawed, saying, "That guy is over 60?!"
- The series also stars 47-year-old (in the first film) Randy Couture, then-actively competing mixed martial artist and MMA's original Badass Grandpa.
- Chuck Norris is 72, and looks no older than 40-50.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme still looks every bit as capable at 53 as he did in his prime.
- Mel Gibson is 58, but is equal to the task of being an action villain in 3. He isn't in Lethal Weapon shape anymore, but his Final Battle with Ross is brutal and physical.
- After a four-year prison sentence, Wesley Snipes emerges at 52 looking like he hasn't lost anything.
- Jet Li sure doesn't look like he's nearly 50 in the first movie either, does he? Could convincingly pass for lower 30s.
- Bald of Awesome: Lee, Mr. Church, Paine, Toll Road and Hale Caesar. Apparently hair is for sissies.
- Bash Brothers: All of the Expendables.
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: What were you expecting from an action film homage?
- BFG: Caesar wields a fully automatic drum-fed shotgun that fires 250 rounds a minute. They later get loaded with FRAG-12 rounds - grenade rounds.
- Big Damn Heroes: Take splace once a movie:
- A truly, truly epic one in the first one when half the squad is pinned down in the tunnels under the palace. Enter Hale Caesar and suddenly all you hear is "BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM" and chunks of guards go flying across the screen.
Caesar: REMEMBER THIS SHIT AT CHRISTMAS!
- This is Chuck Norris' only role in the second one, including taking out a tank by himself!
- Drummer, Trench and Yang pull a Gunship Rescue when the Expendables are in a particularly tight spot in the third one.
- Bloody Hilarious: Many of the casualties in the first two movies, but any victim of Omaya Kaboom takes the cake.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Everyone to some degree, but in particular Hale Caesar and Gunnar.
- Bond One-Liner:
- "Now I can see inside you. And I see lies."
- In 2: "Rest in pieces!"
- In 3: "I am the Hague."
- Born in the Wrong Century: Gunnar seems to think he should have been a Viking warrior. Or at least, his Ax-Crazy interpretation of what Vikings were like.
- Bottomless Magazines: Subverted; everyone has run out of ammo for their main weapons, and even Barney's M1911s need reloading after a few shots, for obvious reasons. It should be noted, too, that Barney's 1911s are not fully automatic. He simply uses a technique (which Stallone apparently practiced for hours on the range) to very rapidly fire the pistols in semi-automatic. The shots of him laying down fire, dumping the magazine, reloading and resuming fire are not sped up - that's just how fast you can fire a 1911 with sufficient skill. (Also a testament to how tough the 1911 is.)
- Chase Scene: Once a movie.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Caesar's FRAG-12 rounds.
- How do you make an armored guard tower explode? Fire a few miniature warheads at it.
- His shaving knife is also used to save Ross from being shot in the back near the end of the finale.
- Gunnar giving Christmas his bowie knife. Christmas later gives it to Munroe.
- Ross and Lee's Quickdraw contest at the beginning.
- Played straight and averted with Sandra's drawings - they look almost intended to be tattoos, but nobody let Tool have a look at 'em. At the same time, the General is shown to share his daughter's appreciation for art, and designs his soldiers' warpaint at the end.
- Caesar describing the psychological effect of the sound of guns. He mentions that shotguns in particular scare the shit out of people. Later, when a couple of the team are pinned down...
Hale: Remember this shit at Christmas!
- Gunner's degree in Chemical Engineering has been brought up early in the sequel. So when they get stuck inside a caved-in mineshaft, he uses his knowledge to concoct an explosive to blow up an escape route. Then it went pfft, and the crew gets rescued by Trench instead....
- In 3, Gunner mocks Thorn for using a wrist computer, but then begrudgingly decides to wear it during the mission to rescue the captured members. It later saves the group when Thorn uses the computer to disable the explosives in the abandoned hotel before the final battle.
- Cold-Blooded Torture:
- IN the first one Munroe has Sandra mercilessly water-boarded in an attempt to make her confess "What the Americans want." Whether the use of water-boarding was intended to be a topical statement on the unsavory intelligence gathering methods of the US Government or an attempt at invoking recent news events that the audience might recognize isn't clear.
- The second one had Maggie do this offscreen to a couple of Sang mooks.
- Cool Bike: Every Expendables member has one.
- Also the Rokon (2-wheel drive motorcycle) from the second movie. However, the Rokon is painfully slow, so it would not have been capable of launching off a roof, clearing a 20-foot gap and taking down a helicopter
- Cool Car:
- Barney's pickup truck.
- The Smart car in 2, by virtue of its passengers being Schwarzenegger and Willis shoulder to shoulder, though it had to lose its doors to contain that much manliness.
- Cool Shades: Appear here and there.
- Combat Pragmatist: All of the Expendables display a realistic disregard for the Marquis of Queensbury rules, making liberal use of Groin Attack, drawing pistols during protracted CQC bouts and teaming up on outnumbered foes.
- Covers Always Lie: Tool? Suited up and ready to roll out with the team? Riiiiight. The bad photoshopping should have tipped you off there. Some posters even add Steve Austin and Bruce Willis to the lineup, but that's a lesser case. One should note that Tool and Church (Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis, respectively) aren't in combat-appropriate uniforms.
- The sequel had Jet Li appear like they always do, but he's Put on a Bus at the end of the intro.
- Deadpan Snarker:
Lee: What's he saying?
Caesar: He's saying we're dead with an accent.
- Christmas in particular loves finding ways to work in some snark.
- Demoted to Extra:
- In order to accommodate the larger roles of Willis and Schwarzenegger, and the additional roles for Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Nan Yu and Liam Hemsworth, a lot of the returning Expendables got the shaft. In particular, Yin Yang vanishes after the first ten minutes and Toll Road barely has any lines in the entire film. Yang made up for it by giving us Jet Li's specialty before he left: a One-Man Army Good Old Fisticuffs beatdown for a good five minutes.
- Arguable for Jet Li, as The Other Wiki reports that scheduling conflicts with another film prevented him from participating in anything more than the first part of the film.
- This also occurs in the third film, as a result of Doc, Galgo, the new Expendables, Trench, Drummer and Yang all taking part in the final battle. Hale is nearly killed during the second mission and incapacitated until the last scene, while Toll Road and several others get next-to-no dialogue for most of the film.
- The Dragon:
- Hector was this in the sequel, and quickly formed a rivalry with Lee.
- Dueling-Stars Movie: May just displace Face/Off and Ocean's Eleven
- Easily Forgiven:
- In the sequel, Lacey.
- Elite Mooks:
- In the first movie, General Garza's special forces, identified by their red berets, jungle camouflage, and green-and-yellow facepaint. Notably, they're actually able to force the Expendables to seriously work to kill them, unlike the regular soldiers who they mow down with regularity.
- Dispensed with in the sequels, absolutely nobody but Vilain and Hector present any challenge to any of the team in the second one, and Stonebank’s lackeys in the third one are all mooks.
Ross: "Look at these clowns. Hand-picked monkeys."
- Establishing Character Moment: Most everyone gets one, but Gunnar's in the opening scene really sets the tone for the entire movie.
- "Warning shot!"
- "It's good to hang pirates!"
- The new addition to the team, Billy the Kid, gets his by rescuing Barney and Lee from six mooks, sniping them in unison with Barney's pantomimed hand pistol.
- The third one gives one of these to every new addition to the team, as Barney and Bonaparte recruit each one.
- Evil Brit: Err... the Brit. Also, Hector in the second one. He's not specifically noted as such, but he speaks with a British accent and the actor playing him is British.
- Evil Counterpart: Towards the end of the first movie Monroe berates Ross for doing the CIA's dirty business and says they are basically the same, mercenaries who are dead inside and have no allegiances. Unfortunately for him Ross' character arc in the movie was doing something good not simply for money. In the sequel, Vilain seems to think of him and his men to be this, and gives the team a speech about it. In fact, it's the reason he doesn't kill them when he has the chance.
- Five-Man Band:
- Fragile Speedster - If this was a World of Warcraft party, Yang would be the striker. In his fight with Gunnar he was faster and more agile but Gunnar was a Mighty Glacier who kept on taking his hits. The sequel puts him in Lightning Bruiser territory when he takes out a roomful of mooks bare-handed without taking a single scratch.
- Friendly Enemy: Ross and Trench to each other. By the second film they have clearly come to respect, if not actually like each other. By the third one they’re in extremely good terms and Trench offers his assistance multiple times.
- Genius Bruiser:
- Toll Road is implied to be fairly well read, when the crew is heading back after their Opening Gambit doing something, most are maintaining their weapons or flying the plane while he is studiously reading a book. This occurs in both films, in fact.
- Gunnar has a degree in chemical engineering, just like Dolph Lundgren.
- Genre Savvy: The Expendables seem to be fully aware that they're in an action movie, and take full advantage of it.
- Genre Throwback: If Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger's involvement doesn't tell you anything. Stallone wrangled even more 80s action stars for the sequels.
- Grey and Black Morality: Not really the Expendables themselves, mind you, but their most frequent employer, the CIA, are portrayed as being shady and amoral. However, the targets that the Expendables are sent to take out are even *worse*.
- Groin Attack: Yang's fighting scenes will include several kicks to the balls. Used multiple times when Ross and Christmas take on a truckload of bad guys in the field. In the sequel, Maggie makes use of a groin kick during the team's ambush of the Sangs in the village.
- Guns Akimbo: Ross
- Hero of Another Story: Trench, who is implied (and in the sequel, stated) to have his own team in the same manner as the protagonists.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ross and Lee.
- Homage: The movie is intended to be an homage to seventies and eighties action films, invoked with a thin story, ludicrous action and exploitative violence.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The bad guys. Sometimes realistically, sometimes not.
- The climax of the first film does show this fairly realistically, as the Expendables open up by destroying the entire palace, and in the ensuing chaos they charge out and are constantly maneuvering and blowing up vehicles and setting things on fire, using speed, mobility, firepower, deadly accuracy, and intimidation to keep Garza's soldiers off-balance.
- In the second movie, the badguys are largely an army of poorly-trained East European militia and gangsters who aren't terribly accurate at best, and are getting mowed down constantly, often before being able to return fire. Also played somewhat for comedy when the group encounter a village where the menfolk had been taken away and the only ones left to defend the place was a handful of untrained civilian women who starts shooting on them. Christmas even jokes that the safest place to be is right in front of their guns.
- The climax of the third movie takes this Up to Eleven when and entire battalion of the Azmenistani army, with tanks and air support still can’t hit the good guys.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The good guys.
- Munroe displays impressive ability with his pistol. While restraining Sandra with one arm he manages to shoot Garze twice in the back and kill three of his guards before any of them got a chance to retaliate. These were elite soldiers wielding automatics under orders to fire on him immediately if he attempts betrayal. He was lucky of course; none of them started aiming at him until the camera pointed at them.
- Ross shoots a mook almost directly behind Christmas. Christmas isn't quite as confident in his ally's aiming skills.
- Occasionally averted, the most notable being near the end when Ross clearly fires many, many pistol shots before taking down just one soldier in a group of many.
- Ross's skills detonate the primer on a thrown artillery round, in such a way that it actually destroys the intended target.
- Billy the Kid was able to fall six guards surrounding Barney and Lee with his sniper rifle within about 2 seconds. He apologized for the delay. Later, he was head-shotting mooks cruising by on boats.
- A more subtle one toward the end of the second movie when Church, Trench, and Barney open up on the Sangs. They unload at full-auto on the massed Sangs, and not one nearby civilian is hit. Every bullet hits a Sang.
- Invincible Hero:
- The Expendables are infallible, indestructible ubermensch. They are not, however, Boring.
- Not so invincible in the second movie, where due to heavy fog, the Sangs are able to get the drop on them and take Billy the Kid hostage. The scene ends as a total failure for them, with the prized item lost and Billy dead.
- Caesar gets shot twice by the Big Bad near the beginning of the third movie. He spends the rest of the movie, barring the epilogue, in the hospital.
- Ironic Nickname: Church, who curses up a storm and is generally un-church-like.
- Jump Cut:
- Every fight scene in the first film is saturated with these. A shot will rarely be held for over three seconds, and tracking shots use Jitter Cam.
- They cut down on it somewhat in the sequel, and dispensed with Jitter Cam altogether, reportedly due to the fan complaints.
- Knife Nut:
- Lee Christmas prefers to fight with his knives and will sometimes use a throwing knife instead of a pistol. Lampshaded by Gunnar, who carries a huge bowie knife himself, and later hands it to Christmas. Ironically, Statham's breakout role in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels had his character get very creeped out by a Knife Nut.
- Tool as well, with whom Christmas has throwing knife competitions.
- Doc quickly kindles a rivalry with Lee almost as soon as he's sprung from the box, when he tells Lee that one of his knives' balance is off. Also, Doc's stuff, which Barney kept around, is a backpack full of all sorts of cutlery.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Averted. Mooks are mutilated, blown apart and cut through like wet tissue paper, yet there is little blood in the wake of any firefight and their viscera seems to be composed of boneless Kool-aid.
- Made of Iron: None of the protagonists suffer meaningful injuries for the duration of the films. Gunnar gets shot just above the heart and is hale and hearty by his next scene.
- Manly Tears:
- Tool lets out a few near the end of the story he tells to Ross, who can't see his face but the audience can.
- Most of the members during Billy's funeral.
- Meaningful Name:
- A pretty obscure one. Lee Christmas was a mercenary during the real-life Banana Wars. Genius Bonus for history buffs, and a huge hint that the name is really an alias.
- The team's name "Expendables", given the plot of the movie, although it also borders on Non-Indicative Name. The CIA considered them expendable, but they showed themselves to be a badass crew of invincible supermen.
- They are called the Expendables because Barney has become so jaded and dark over the years, that he believes the world would be no better off if he dies. Tool manages to convince him to change this.
- Is Mauser as a last name merely a cliched stock reference... or a portmanteau of 'Mars' and 'Hauser'?
- James Munroe could well be a reference to James Monroe, the U.S. president most known for formulating the "Monroe Doctrine", which served as a justification for U.S. meddling in Latin American affairs.
- Barney Ross was the name of an American boxer from the 1930s. His name could be a reference to the fact that one of Sylvester Stallone's best known characters is a boxer.
- The Big Bad of The Expendables 2 crosses the line into Speed Racer levels of naming ridiculousness. He's a villain played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, and his name is...Jean Vilain. The reference to sheep, and the fact that the name might allude to a "farm hand" could put this in Punny Name territory for vocabulary geeks.
- Meta Casting:
- Dolph Lundgren actually does hold a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering.
- Harrison Ford regularly flies his own helicopter in real-life and sometimes participates in wilderness search-and-rescue.
- More Dakka:
- About 60% of the film is pure dakka. Hale's AA-12 makes up 59.9% percent of that dakka.
- In the second one, one scene stands out. After one battle, there's a single mook remaining. When he pops out, one of the Expendables shouts a warning, and all of them immediately and hilariously turn and fill him with about 200 rounds.
- Multicultural Team: Barney, Caeser, Toll Road, and Billy are Americans, Christmas is British, Gunner is Swedish, Yin Yang and Maggie are Chinese.
- Explicitly pointed out (and mocked) in the sequel, when confronted by the women in the village:
Ross: We're Americans.
- Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: The team kick much ass using real weapons in CQC. Mooks? Not so much.
- Non-Indicative Name:
- Noodle Incident:
- The Expendables talk between themselves about previous adventures in well-known hot spots of the Eighties and Nineties. Subverted in the case of Mickey Rouke's character - he describes a woman he could have saved in Bosnia. In the sequel, Billy the Kid talks about his prior tour of duty in Afghanistan.
- Mauser and Ross seem to hate each other due to a Noodle Incident, judging from their exchange in front of Church in the first movie.
- The Not-Love Interest:
- Sandra to Ross. There seems to be some chemistry, but nothing ever comes of it - his primary reason for saving her is that she's a resistance leader.
- In the sequel, Maggie and Ross have even more chemistry than Sandra and Ross did. But Ross refuses to become involved with her because so many people who have gotten close to him have died.
- In the third movie Luna implies that if Barney was 30 years younger, she’d go after him.
- One-Man Army:
- "Four and a half men" but close enough.
- Booker, who cements it in his entrance when he wipes out the entire force (including a main battle tank) that has the Expendables pinned down singlehandedly. The team also notes that he works alone.
- The others get their moments from time to time. Yang in particular made up for his lack of CQC scenes in the first movie by kicking the hell out of a squad of mooks alone in the sequel.
- Only Known by Their Nickname:
- Mr. Church devised his own nickname on the spot and suggests that Barney Ross (and possibly his entire team) is just an alias.
- Toll Road? Hale Caesar? Yin Yang? If those aren't aliases this might as well be called "A Boy Named Sue: The Movie"
- Outrun the Fireball: Several times. Usually by the bad guys, and it sometimes works for them.
- Punny Name: Toll Road, Hale Caesar, Yin Yang. In the sequel, the villain's name is... Vilain.
- Put on a Bus:
- Yin who is present only for the opening mission of the second movie. He air drops out of the cargo plane with the rescued hostage after the mission and is never seen for the rest of the film. When asked when he'll be back, he replies "Maybe soon...maybe never. Maybe start a new life." Jet Li reportedly asked for a reduced role himself. The Bus Came Back in the third movie.
- Church is explained by Drummond as having retired prior to the events of the third movie. Like Li, this was motivated by Bruce Willis' attitude and salary demands prior to filming, which led to him being removed from the project altogether.
- Rated M for Manly: Look at the cast! It's like a singularity of manliness!
- Real Men Wear Pink:
- Tool's obsession with "decorating" pretty much anything, whether it's Lee's head with a tattoo or a guitar he plans to smash once it's completed.
- One of the first things Doc mentions after being freed is his desire to put on some “fine threads”
- Rule of Cool: The entire series. Special mentions go to:
- Stallone's character uses a single-action revolver which he fires in bursts by fanning the hammer. Badass? Yes. Homage to classic Westerns? Probably. Utterly illogical? Who gives a fuck?!
- Fanning is something a trained shooter could do. Taking down several targets in the process? Not so much.
- Ross and Caesar blow up a chopper by throwing a shell and then setting it off in midair. By shooting at it. Wait, aren't those things, like, built to make sure stuff like that doesn't happen? Fuck that! Who needs physics when you've got HSQ?
- Sequel Escalation:
- How do they top the previous movie's cast? Add Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger back in action plus weapons grade plutonium as the MacGuffin.
- 3 has the entire cast of Expendables from the first film (minus Caesar, who's sidelined because of a near fatal injury), new recruits Doc and Galgo, plus the new, younger group of Expendables, and Harrison Ford flying air support while Schwarzenegger and a returning Jet Li fire out of a helicopter.
- Shoot the Dog:
- Barney to Gunnar.
- In the sequel, Billy talks about his time in the military, specifically an event where his base commander literally shoots the dog. This was part of what lead to his being disillusioned with the military and ultimately joining the Expendables.
- The mercenaries posing as ornithologists for their recon is likely a reference to the film of The Dogs of War.
- Mickey Rourke still has Vanko's haircut and eye slant.
- The whole church scene.
- "What've we got? Four and a half men?"
- Christmas acquiring a ruby from Burma. Alfred relates a similar tale, and closer to home Burma was the setting of the most recent Rambo film, starring...you know.
- The drilling vehicle that Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) uses to bust the Expendables out of the collapsed mine bears a STRIKING resemblence to the drilling vehicle that Quade (also played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) shoves a drill into in Paul Verhoeven's adaptation of Total Recall (1990). And of course, the homage to his actor's most beloved Catch Phrase as soon as he appears:
Lee: Nothin' beats a classic.
- In yet another shoutout to the series, in the end, upon seeing that the Expendables are to be taken back home in a very, very old Russian propeller plane:
- In 3, when the team is running to the extraction chopper, Trench implores everyone to "Run to da choppa!" Later, when asked why he said he was leaving the special ops life for good, he simply replies, "I lied."
- Barney is the Hague.
- The title of the movies is probably a reference to this Stallone's line in Rambo: First Blood Part II: "I'm expendable."
- At one point in 3, Barney accidentally pronounces Galgo's name as "Golgo".
- The Snark Knight: Christmas. Up to Eleven in the sequels.
- Strictly Formula: If you have seen any action movie ever, you already know how the plot of every instalment in the franchise goes. Then again, you're probably not watching it for the story anyway.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The Movie. Somewhere, Michael Bay is watching this movie, dabbing a tissue at the single Manly Tear at the corner of his eye, and whispering, "it's beautiful". Then he throws away the tissue. And it explodes.
- Summer Blockbuster
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The guys' motto, it seems.
- A memorable moment in the second has the team finishing off a platoon of mooks and while standing together Barney calls out "One more!" and the entire team empties their collective arsenal into a solitary gunman.
- Stonebank pulls all the stops in the third one to take out the team. It’s still not enough.
- Throw Away Guns: Sometimes to ditch extra weight, sometimes out of necessity. Special mention goes to Yang in the second movie, who throws his gun at a mook to knock them out before grabbing the frying pans.
- Title Drop: Averted. While the name "Expendables" appears on weapons and motorcycle decals, the name of the group is never actually spoken. Some countries call the film The Mercenaries, and that term shows up a lot.
- Played straight in the third movie. Where the name of the team is brought up repeatedly.
- Token Evil Teammate: Gunnar in the first movie...mostly. Not so much in the sequels, where he's become like the rest of the crew.
- Token Romance:
- Averted. Nothing between Stallone and Sandra, which is nice considering how tempting it must have been. And while Statham also has a Love Interest, most of their interactions concern the fact that she dislikes his lifestyle.
- Similarly averted in the sequel. It hints that Maggie has a crush on Barney and they have a verbally affectionate parting by the end, but nothing more.
- Galgo shows an interest in Luna in the third one, but is not reciprocated.
- Torture Always Works: Subverted. Sandra is waterboarded for information on the Expendables but does not give in. Instead, Monroe needs to get his information from Gunnar.
- Played straight in the second one, with Maggie and her set of surgical instruments.
- Troperiffic: It even provides the page image.
- True Companions:
- Plays with it. An early scene implies that the team try to maintain completely professional relationships and nothing else, which is the reason behind their Code Names (Yang suggests he is in it only for the money, claiming he needs more to support his son). The only members who seem to be genuinely close friends are Barney, Lee and Tool. But in spite of that they trust each other with their lives and mid-way through the movie you see them rallying around Barney and his personal mission, the ending scene is everyone having drinks together. Becomes even more clear in the sequel when the entire team hangs out in a bar(even Lacy was there) together during their downtime, then shows again with them all being very visibly upset about Billy's death, with Gunnar even seeming to wipe a tear from his eye.
- The third film has the line "Everybody needs friends" thrown around a couple of times.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Basically the reason these films are made. In the first film there was specifically Dolph Lundgren vs. Jet Li and Sylvester Stallone vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Surprisingly enough, Stallone and Li are playing the heroes and are clearly outmatched by Austin and Lundgren. The sequel promised Stallone vs. Van Damme early on. And the third? Rambo vs. Mad Max (or Judge Dredd vs. Martin Riggs)!
- The Unintelligible: Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren and Schwarzenegger are all known for sometimes being rather hard to understand either due to their accent or just kind of growling out their words. Put them together in the same movie and it's even more noticeable.
- In the third movie, Drummer hilariously keeps calling Lee out for this.
Lee: What's the advice?
Drummer: What language is he speaking?
Barney: What's the advice?
- Unorthodox Reload: Played with - Barney reloads his M1911 normally, he just does it incredibly fast. With enough practice, any experienced shooter can do it, too. Now, doing it while being shot at by fifty men with assault rifles in the open...
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Inverted: Barney and Trench hate each other's guts, but talk as if they were old buddies.
- Surprisingly, Yang and Gunnar are like this in 2, after having no shortage of real anger at each other in the first film. When Yang departs the group, Gunnar even sounds a little sad when he says, "Who am I going to pick on now?"
- War for Fun and Profit:
- Ultimately averted by the end of the first movie, finally going in to kick ass because an innocent woman's going to get murdered if Barney doesn't save her.
- Initally played straight for the rest of the team, since a $5 million paycheck made goo-goo eyes at them.
- And Barney was highly considering not rescuing the girl until he talks to Tool and realizes he'll get to deal with the guilt of not rescuing her for the rest of his life.
- Also averted in the sequel. Church accuses Barney of stealing the $5 million and threatens to make them disappear from the face of the earth unless they do another job to make up for it. Later, they decide to chase down Vilain to avenge Billy.
- Played straight with Vilain, though, who's only interested in selling the plutonium.
- In the third movie Stonebanks claims their differing approaches to these trope is what led to his original falling out with Barney.
- Weaponized Seaplane:
- With four machine guns hidden in the nosecone, and a fuel dump to ignite and use as a Fuel/Air Explosion. Very very good at spreading out a cushion of air that turns people's innards to jelly.
- In 2, they have a new (though very similar) plane with what appears to basically be a small hand-loaded howitzer in the nose. However, it's not especially accurate given it can only shoot at exactly what the plane is pointed at, so it acts more like a tank cannon.
Ross: "You missed!"
- Weapon of Choice - An interesting case in that each character has their preferred weapon, but all characters switch between guns and fists/knives to fit the situation - or are forced to drop them due to situation change.
- World of Badass: Everyone but the girl fits in the first film; the girl is totally included—in both sequels.
- World of Ham: Considering it's a movie with Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this trope was pretty much unavoidable.
- Would Hit a Girl:
- In the original movie, Paine and Lacy's new boyfriend.
- In 2, Maggie beats the hell out of several mooks in hand to hand combat, none of whom seemed squeamish about trying to hit (or shoot) her.
- Wrestler in All of Us: A lot of wrestling moves are used, even though only one actor is a (professional) wrestler.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
- Gunnar gets upset with the Mook he's stuck with during his high-speed ambush of Ross and Yang, up to the point he crushes the Mook's head against the dashboard with his boot.
- Munroe, to General Garza after the dictator decides to kick his ex-CIA partners as well as the Expendables out of his country.
- In 2, Vilain does this to his laborers, shooting a few and leaving the rest entombed in the uranium vaults.
- In 3, Stonebanks shoots a military general and tech operator after getting frustrated that the Expendables are mowing through the army he sent to kill them.
The Expendables provides examples of:
The Expendables 2
The Expendables 2 provides examples of:
- Ascended Meme: Chuck Norris' character in general. He shows up and destroys an army by himself. Lampshaded with one of the Chuck Norris Facts (the one about the King Cobra) used as a legend about the character.
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: The three armored vehicles used by the team in the beginning of the movie. Part truck, part battering ram, rounded off with ironic phrases spray painted on their business ends. ("COMING SOON", "KNOCK KNOCK", "BAD ATTITUDE".) And speaking of '80s references, it's probably not a coincidence that "Bad Attitude" (B.A.) looks like something The A-Team would have built, and is driven by the black member of the team...
- Badass Preacher: Invoked when Christmas shows off his martial arts skills while disguised as a priest.
Lee: By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you... Man and knife.
(Proceeds to unload knife frenzy on some rooks...)
- Bad-Guy Bar: Barney an Lee visit one to get information.
- Bad to the Bone: Chuck Norris' first two appearances in the film draw a Leitmotif from another, older, badass - namely, The Good The Bad And The Ugly.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Yang/Jet Li. The film puts an emphasis on this by giving him an entire sequence where he takes out an entire squad this way. He also used a pair of frying pans.
- Call Back:
- A good portion of the movie features dialogue specifically referencing moments in the first film, including: a direct reference to Vilena, Yang and Gunnar "I would have winned" exchange, Gunnar referring to people as "insect", and Caesar's famous AA-12 shows up in the first scene.
Gunnar: Did you win?
Yang: Of course I win.
- Ross, like Tool before him, is given a chance to save women. Unlike Tool, he takes the opportunity.
- Celebrity Paradox: "Who's next, Rambo?"
- Cigar Chomper: Both Ross and Trench are frequently seen with a cigar.
- Combat Breakdown: Played straight and then inverted in the final fight between Barney and Vilain. They start out trading bullets, but then decide to put their guns away after Vilain runs out of bullets, and Vilain even throws away the knife he took from Barney so they can fight bare-handed. But as the fight progresses, Vilain gets desperate enough that he actually snatches the knife back up to defend himself, and Barney counters by grabbing a heavy chain and using it as a weapon.
- Demoted to Extra / Put on a Bus: Scheduling issues with Jet Li resulted in his character Yin Yang not appearing beyond the opening scene.
- Disproportionate Retribution: "You gave me a shit job, I'm gonna shoot you in the face when I see you!"
- Dynamic Entry:
- Trench plus a small tunnel-boring machine during the sequel.
- And, of course, the intro, featuring KNOCK-KNOCK, a giant battering ram on a jeep.
- Finger Gun: Exaggerated in one scene, when Barney treats his Finger Gun as if it were actually his revolver, complete with cocking the 'hammer'; subverted when all the baddies he 'fires' it at fall over dead as though he actually shot them; then double subverted when it turns out all the bullets were actually fired by Friendly Sniper Billy the Kid.
- From Bad to Worse: The heroes get pinned down during a firefight, and Barney mentions that the only way they could win is if they have a tank. The bad guys then roll out a tank.
- Gory Discretion Shot: While the movie offers up a lot of blood spatter, we cut away during the bit where Maggie performs some painful Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on a Sang mook.
- He Had a Name: this is used during the confrontation between Barney and Vilain.
- He's Back: Arnold Schwarzenegger, both in-story and metafictionally - this was one of his first roles, after his tenure as Governor of California ended.
- Hopeless Suitor: Gunnar clearly has a huge crush on Maggie, but he is just too awkward and drunk around her to make any sort of sense.
- Hollywood Density:
- The plutonium in the second film is handled easily; one man was shown to casually carry three rather large "bars" in his hands in one scene. In reality these bars are sealed storage containers, and are usually made from thick lead-lined steel, weighing no less than 20 kilo each.
- What actually makes them lighter than plutonium bars, because plutonium is one and half density of lead.
- Even worse, it looks like there's just about 200 cylinders with the plutonium. So each cylinder should contain around 25kg of plutonium and the critical mass of plutonium is around 10kg for a perfect sphere. So these cylinders would be very close to it. And then the villains stack them in a regular hexagonal grid. Can you say "criticality accident"?
- Improvised Weapon:
- When he runs out of bullets, Yang does work with some frying pans.
- Christmas makes use of a thurible(!) while disguised as a Catholic priest. Not to mention Ross and Caesar's use of an artillery shell as a hand thrown weapon...
- Ironic Echo:
- "You look nervous."
- "Question is, will you die like a man, or a sheep?"
- "Now, what?" First spoken by Ross right before Billy is killed... later is spoken by Vilain right before he killed by Ross.
- It's Personal: Billy's death makes the mission to retrieve the plutonium this for the team.
Lee: What's the plan?
Ross: Track 'em. Find 'em. Kill 'em.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Church is not a nice guy and he and Barney do not like each other. Still, when Billy is killed he offers sympathy to Barney and decides to give him more support. He also specifically told Ross to make sure no harm comes to Maggie. It appears that he's usually only concerned about fellow CIA agents.
- Lighter and Softer: There were rumors and even an official statement saying they were making the sequel PG-13. Probably due to the fandom backlash they ultimately went back on that idea and the movie is rated R like the original. It's been also said that the PG-13 was due to the removal of so much swearing in the script, a condition made by Chuck Norris before he'd join in. The final movie does have virtually no cursing, a contrast to the occasional Cluster F Bombs from the first.
- Mood Whiplash: Lamshaded and used in-universe. Maggie notes how the team bounces between light-hearted humor and dark nihilism concerning themselves. Barney notes that at this point they just try to keep things light for as long as they can, but they get pitch black dark when it's time to get serious.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The monstrous bad guy played by Jean-Claude Van Damme in the sequel is named Vilain. So basically "Villain" if it were pronounced with a French accent.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ross and Vilain's fight at the end of the second film is suitably brutal.
- Obviously Evil: Van Damme's character’s last name is "Vilain", which is basically the word "villain" with a Francophone accent. He is in fact a villain with a Francophone accent. Even Ross seems shocked at the idea. As if it weren't enough, Vilain used a satanic pentagram with goat horns as his gang's symbol!
- Off with His Head!: Billy's headshots disintegrates heads in the beginning of the movie, and Ross later does it to Vilain.
- Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Vilain manages to get the drop on Barney and his crew in the sequel, and after a lengthy standoff, Barney agrees to drop their weapons and hand over the device. Vilain then expresses his respect for Barney and leads his men away. Then he kills Billy as an afterthought to remind Barney that "respect must be earned."
- Red Right Hand: Vilain and his Dragon both have big neck pentacle tattoos with a goat (which, as Vilain helpfully reminds us, is Satan's pet).
- Red Shirt: The interviews and promotional material of the film made it clear that the plot would revolve around the team avenging the death of, "one of their own." Looking at the cast, it was the guys from the first film and Thor's little brother. No points for guessing who gets the axe.
- Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Mr. Church recaps the team's exploits in the original movie while talking to Barney.
- Retirony: Billy talks about how he's going to retire at the end of the month, he doesn't even make it to the end of the next day.
- Sacrificial Lion: Billy the Kid is brutally tortured and killed right in front of his crew by Vilain.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Yin Yang drops out early in the film to deliver a Chinese national, though, in his words, there's a fifty-fifty chance he might make the separation from the team permanent.
- Self-Deprecation: At the very end of the movie, when Church gives Barney an An-2 biplane:
Barney: That thing belongs in a museum!
Trench: We all do.
- Sinister Shades: In part 2, Vilain spends pretty much the entire movie wearing sunglasses, even when underground in a mine. He only takes them off when he's preparing to face Ross in a hand to hand combat fight to the death.
- The Villain Makes the Plot: Van Damme received a lot of praise for his role as the bad guy.
- Worthy Opponent: Jean Vilain considers Barney one of these. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, that doesn't mean he is nice to Barney, and he kills Billy just to remind Barney that "respect must be earned."
The Expendables 3
The Expendables 3 provides examples of: