The Expendables 3
Cert: 12A / 126 mins / Dir. Patrick Hughes
You've got to hand it to The Expendables as a franchise; it's never promised more than it's delivered. The cast-list may grow with each installment, but the complexity doesn't, and although this review is going to come across as incredibly sniffy, Ex3 is undoubtedly the perfect Summer-movie*1, where the phrase "…bang for your buck" is given a new, literal reinforcement.
So Sly™ gets the gang back together for a scrape in the first act of the movie (complete with helicopters, guns and massive, massive explosions) before retiring*2 the old codgers who can't act, out of some apparent sense of paternal camaraderie, and going on a lengthy recruitment montage with Frasier to get a team of youngsters who also can't act, but are faster at doing it. As a painfully mechanical plot (which is brightened up by the cinematic lunacy of Mel Gibson) trundles on, both groups of mannequins are drawn together to bridge the gap of generational dimwittedness, whilst Sly™ winces after having a set-runner spray a mist-gun over his eyes to emulate happiness. Actors you don't know the names of die; actors you at least recognise, don't. But at least this one doesn't have Bruce Willis in it, right?
The film is absolutely dreadful of course, but it's the kind of dreadful that you can at least laugh along to, and given the overall average of 2014, that's a blessed relief. Truth be told, there is at least more for the co-starring cast to do this time around, whereas last time they'd drop into a scene, wave 'hello' and then exit sharply. The roll-call of Saga-eligible thesps is still considerable, but there's some reason for them being there, even if it's a flimsy one (Yes, you Jet Li). Wesley Snipes looks like he was having an absolute blast making this movie (although his character is batshit-crazy in one scene and solemnly focused in the next; Patrick Hughes in the director's chair, there), as does the aforementioned Mel Gibson, who I haven't seen be this nuts since Machete Kills. Curiously, the only genuine sense of chemistry on display is between Stallone and Jason Statham, continuing the self-effacing, understated man-love they displayed in Ex2. It's this which leads me to believe that the potential is there for a series of much stronger movies, although it's debatable if they've ever aspired to be anything more than guns and grunting.
Ironically, the only display of actual acting in the entire film comes from Antonio Banderas, whooping, irritating and hamming things up beautifully as the Jar Jar Binks of the Expendables. Of all the faces on-screen, his is the only one that dares to break character, which for this series is almost revolutionary…
Clichéd, mechanical and gloriously dumb, The Expendables 3 is the Lynx Africa of action movies; very easy to take the piss out of, but far better than the alternative, ie stinking.
Only when the shells were flying.
I think it achieves what Stallone wants it to…
The explosions are huge fun on a massive screen. Stallone attempting to emote isn't.
I won't avoid it, but I doubt I'll seek it out.
For some reason best known to the creator of the universe and all that exists within it, there ain't.
Can we hold the Stallone to the phrase in the trailer, "one last ride", on some sort of legal basis? It's really best that this ends with part three, and I'm already wincing in anticipation of The Expendabelles…
*1 If only because if it was released at any other time of year it'd get a thorough pasting. Which it seems to have gotten anyway, admittedly.
*2 Not 'retiring' in a Blade Runner sense. Although as coincidence would have it, Ford's rickety, laboured, by-the-numbers performance in this film indicates that he may well be a replicant after all. There's a frailty to the guy which genuinely worries me about his role in Star Wars Episode VII, now…
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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