With the release of the actioner The Expendables 2, we decided to load up on some of the very best action ensembles to roam the wild movie wasteland.
Movie veterans Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren topline this all-star cast of characters along with Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban and Ernest Borgnine in a caper about retired CIA agents getting back together for one last job. Take that young whippersnappers!
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The original wild bunch, and a group of toughies with no shortage of charisma or brawn, The Magnificent Seven were a group of cowboys brought together for a just cause - defending a halpess Mexican village from a bunch of nasty baddies. Star power? How about Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn and the original man in black - Yul Brynner.
The Great Escape (1963)
First sign that you're watching a classic action ensemble - Steve McQueen or Charles Bronson are in the cast. Both are involved? Aces. Here, they, along with folks like James Garner, Donald Pleasance and Richard Attenborough, make a break for it from a WW II-era German POW camp. It's a daring adventure, and a showcase for all involved.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Another sure sign you've got a winning action ensemble: Lee Marvin's the man in charge...and Charles Bronson's also still hanging around. Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas and NFL great Jim Brown co-star as cons turned war heroes on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Red co-star Ernest Borgnine is no stranger to the ways of the action ensemble. Back in 1969, he co-starred in one of the ultimate ensembles and westerns. The Wild Bunch is director Sam Peckinpah's violent and unapologetic treatise on the genre, and features down and dirty cowboys doing down and dirty things. Borgnine, William Holden, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson lay down a line of fire that's rarely been matched since the debut of this wild masterpiece.
The Outsiders (1983)
Many claim the Brat Pack came of age in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire. But the seven tough greasers in Francis Coppola's epic coming-of-age-classic would beg to differ. Amongst the young rebel heroes are superstars Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio. Stay gold, Outsiders crew, stay gold.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The picture tells all. You just don't get any cooler in a camera shot, walking down the street in matching suits, than the criminals in Reservoir Dogs. Plus, they all have cool color-code names, i.e., Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange (ok, debatable on the Mr. Pink). This is the cast at their coolest. From this introduction, it will be all downhill after a heist gone spectacularly wrong.
It's almost Halloween, and if you can afford it, you and your buddies might want to dress up as the Earp gang from Tombstone. Kurt Russell, Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton and Val Kilmer's irrepressible Doc Holliday headline an all-star cast that squeezes this postmodern western - the tale of Wyatt Earp's legendary showdown at the OK Corral - for every ounce of its juicy pulp worth.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Director Bryan Singer (X-men, Superman Returns) made his mark with this 1995 mystery/thriller about a group of con men (Kevin Pollak, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey) and the one mastermind behind it all, Keyser Soze.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Tom Hanks, this Steven Spielberg directed WWII picture also starred Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi and Jeremy Davies.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Another ensemble war movie in 1998 was this Terence Malick directed philosophical take on WWII starring Adrien Brody, Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn, James Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, George Clooney, John Cusack, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte, John Travolta, John C. Reilly and Jared Leto.
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Combing action with some class was this cool group of dudes all under the direction of leader Danny Ocean, played by George Clooney. Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliot Gould, Don Cheadle and more were all part of his heist crew, tasked with taking down three casinos in one night.
The Italian Job (2003)
Movie star leader? Check (Mark Wahlberg). Roughneck ruffian? Check (Jason Statham). Brainy know-it-all? Check (Seth Green). Beauty with a mysterious motive? Check (Charlize Theron). Throw in Donald Sutherland and Edward Norton to stir the pot in this heist pic, and you have the makings of a solid 2003 megahit.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Be sure to rent all three X-Men, but for sheer volume of "ensembleness," it's hard to argue with the last one, which makes up for a lack of genuine movie artistry with everything and the coat of paint on the star front -- including Wolverine Hugh Jackman, Storm Halle Berry, Rogue Anna Paquin and even little Juno Ellen Page as 'Kitty' Pryde.
Smokin' Aces (2007)
Underrated in the canon of Ryan Reynolds' action flicks is the all-star actioner Smokin' Aces, that finds Jeremy Piven's weasel mob informant shacked up in a casino with everyone gunning for him. The list of mercenaries includes Alicia Keys, Chris Pine, Nestor Carbonell and a bunch of other memorable, pistol-packin' thugs.
The Losers (2010)
The new year of the action ensemble started off with future Captain America Chris Evans teaming up with ex-Watchmen Jeffrey Dean Morgan and current Star Trek beauty Zoe Saldana, along with Idris Elba, Columbus Short and Oscar Jaenada, for some explosive good times as mercenaries for hire up against crazy bad guy Jason Patric.
The A-Team (2010)
The best thing about The A-Team movie is that it fondly recalls "The A-Team" TV show while whipping up its own brand of post-millenium fun. Forget the plot. It's all about Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley blowing things up real good..and Jessica Biel looking great chasing after them.
The other action ensemble of 2010 to feature both Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana was this slick heist caper, which has cool kids Elba, Paul Walker, Tip "T.I." Harris, Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen (with bowler hat no less) coming together to pull a fast one. In the way is Outsider cop Matt Dillon and his partner Jay Hernandez.
Sucker Punch (2011)
The only all-female group of badasses is courtesy of director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen). Based on an original idea of his, Emily Browning kicks butt alongside Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung, as they try to escape from a mental institution by any means and state of mind necessary.
The Avengers (2012)
Half a century ago, The Magnificent Seven laid down the law on action ensembles. This year, a new Magnificent Seven took the box office by storm in the form of The Avengers. It was a superhero collective of epic proportions - and one to inspire action ensembles for years to come!
More favorite action ensembles? Comment and let us know below!