An elite team of mercenaries known as the Expendables are on a rescue mission to save the crew of a shipping vessel taken over by Somali pirates. The group is made up of the team leader, Barney Ross, blade specialist Lee Christmas, martial artist Yin Yang, sniper Gunner Jensen, weapons specialist Hale Cesar and demolitons expert Toll Road. Negotiations are cut short when the mentally unstable Jensen, against Ross' orders, instigates a firefight, during which some of the hostages, as well as all of the pirates are killed. The last remaining pirate, the captain, is found by Jensen, who then hangs him. The rest of the team is disgusted and Ross is forced to discharge Jensen. However, due to constant in fighting within the group, the team dynamic breaks down and the Expendables ultimately go their seperate ways.
One year later, Ross is lured into a meeting with one Mr Church and another mercenary leader, Trench Mauser. Church presents them with a new mission; Ross doesn't wan the contract, but Mauser is faster to act and announces that he has no time for it and walks out. Ross is forced to take on the mission.
Church tells Ross about Vilena, a South American island in the Gulf of Mexico. Vilena is ruled by a cruel dictator; General Garza, and Ross' mission is to overthrow him. Ross meets up with Christmas, who is preparing to propose to his girlfriend, and convinces him to fly with him to Vilena on a reconnaissance mission. They infiltrate the island under the guise of enviromental agents and meet up with their contract, the alluring Sandra. She drives the around the island, showing them the damage Garza's rule has done. They witness a squad of Garza's militia trashing the marketplace, and Christmas takes some photos of a mysterious American man observing the chaos. As their tour continues, the trio are stopped by a random checkpoint. The scene grows tense as they examine Ross and Christmas' identification, until one guard draws a gun and prepares to shoot them. Sandra shouts for them to stop, revealing herself as Garza's daughter. The distraction allows Ross and Christmas to pull out their own weapons and kill the guards. The trio make their way to the seaplane Ross and Christmas arrived in, but Sandra refuses to leave the island, knowing that her people will only suffer and die if she leaves. Ross and Christmas then depart from Vilena, and shortly thereafter, Garza's men capture Sandra.
Back in the states, Ross and Christmas visit Tool, the team's former mission coordinator, at his tattoo parlour, and ask his assistance in checking out Christmas' photos. Before they can begin their analysis, the shop is visited by Yang, who states that he was simply passing through the neighbourhood. The four of them look at the photos and learn that the man they saw is James Munroe, an ex-CIA agent who is using Garza as a puppet while he carries out his own profiterring operations.
Elsewhere, Garza is angered to learn that Sandra has been tortured for information by Munroe's henchman, Dan Paine. Munroe suspects that Sandra is working with Ross and Christmas to have both Garza and himself assassinated. As he tries to figure out what to do, he is approached by a vengeful Jensen, who agrees to accept payment of one million dollars for the termination of the other team members (even those not involved, as Jensen is purely out for revenge).
Ross confronts Church, who is forced to reveal the true nature of the mission and Munroe's history. Munroe was in charge of the CIA's more nefarious dealings; he funded the agency through drug dealing. It wasn't long before Munroe went rogue and began to take the money for himself. When his dealings were revealed, he was booted from the agency. Years later, he reappeared, secretly ruling Vilena and using Garza as a figurehead. As the CIA could not kill Munroe directly for fear of bad publicity, Church hired Ross under the guise of simply killing Garza, but the true target was actually Munroe.
As Ross and Yang drive back to the parlour, they are ambushed by Munroe's men, led by Jensen. A chase and firefight ensues, leaving only Jensen, Yang and Ross alive. They engage in a brutal hand to hand fight inside a warehouse, during which both Ross and Yang are knocked down a flight of stairs. Jensen, towering over the defeated Yang, pulls out a pistol and prepares to finish him. Suddenly, Ross impales him from behind with a pipe. As Jensen lays dying, he makes amends with Ross and Yang and then reveals the layout of Garza's fortress.
Back the the parlour, Tool recounts an emotional story from the Bosnian War, when he saw a woman standing on a bridge, and even though he knew she was going to jump, he walked away. He failure to do anything has haunted him everyday since. Ross is inspired to return to Vilena and rescue Sandra himself. However, as he prepares to leave, he is joined by Christmas, Tool and Yang, who has also gathered Cesar and Toll Road. The group depart for Vilena as the reunited Expendables.
When Garza learns that they have entered his compound, it is the final straw. Thinking that Munroe has hired the Expendables to kill him, Garza has his men paint their faces, ready for war, and then gives a speech about purging the nation of the American disease, referring to both the mercenaries and Munroe. As Sandra watches, Munroe kills Garza's armed guards and then throws a knife into the general's back, causing him to fall over the balcony. A firefight erupts between Garza's men, Munroe's men and the Expendables. Sandra finds Garz'as body and cradles him as he dies, apologizing for what he put her though before going. She is then taken hostage by Munroe, who makes his way towards an escape chopper.
Toll Road reveals that he rigged the entire palace with explosives and detonates them, destroying it. Cesar manages to blow up the chopper just as Munroe arrives and witnesses it. Keeping Sandra close, he tries to make a run for it and Ross pursues them. Tool, Yang, Toll Road and Cesar team up to kill the rest of the soldiers and Paine.
Ross corners Munroe, who holds a gun to Sandra's head and threatens to kill her unless Ross drops his weapon. With no choice, Ross drops his gun to the ground. As he gets to his knees, his discreetly removes his knife from his belt. Before Munroe can shoot Ross, he is shot by Christmas, and the two double team Munroe. Christmas pulls Sandra aside while Ross decaptiates Munroe.
As the group prepares to return home, Sandra once again refuses to leave. Ross wishes her well as the team departs, before revealing that he left the mission payment with her as a gift to help with the rebuilding of Vilena. Back athe parlour, the group throws a party to celebrate their comeback. The film ends with the Expendables taking a group photo to makr the occassion.
Gerard Butler - Barney Ross
Tom Hardy – Jarrod Christmas
Donnie Yen – Ying Yang
Nicolas Cage – Gunner Jensen
Michael Jai White – Hale Caesar
Karl Urban – Toll Road
Danny Trejo – Tool
Morgan Freeman – Church
Kurt Russell – Trench Mauser
Christopher Walken – James Munroe
Randy Orton – Dan Paine
Edward James Olmos – General Garza
Olga Kurylenko – Sandra Garza