The Expendables 3

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Film reviews

Directed by Patrick Hughes. Starring Sylvester Stallone and…oh too many to list right here…

The film opens with the Expendables, a mercenary group led by Barney Ross (Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), breaking a former expendable named Doc (Wesley Snipe) out of prison. Immediately Doc is recruited to join the Expendables on their latest mission, to stop an arms dealer from selling weapons to a Somali warlord. Unfortunately the mission goes sour when the arms dealer is revealed as a man named Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) a man who was once an Expendable, and a man that Barney thought he had killed.

The Expendables escape, though one of their number is badly wounded. Fearful that his team are getting too old for the life they lead, yet determined to gain revenge on Stonebanks, Barney fires his friends and utilises a former mercenary named Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to hire a new group of younger, one might even say more expendable, Expendables.

Once his new team is assembled, and acting on intelligence provided by CIA liaison Max Drummer (Harrison Ford replacing Bruce Willis who priced himself out of the film) Barney and the new Expendables head to Romania.

Stonebanks is a dangerous adversary though, and it may be that the grizzled old Expendables might still have a part to play in bringing him down.

It’s amazing to think that what started as a curiosity, and a fairly low key (all things considered) action film gathering together old 80s action stars should have led to not just one, but now two sequels, with each one upping the ante, not only in terms of the action quotient, but also in terms of the sheer scale of the cast. What’s even more surprising is that the laws of diminishing returns obviously doesn’t apply to grizzled pensioners with guns, because this might well be my favourite of the three Expendables movies. Whilst the first film was perhaps played too straight faced, and the second played too farcical, this third film is— almost as if Goldilocks was watching the films back to back—just right.

For starters the wealth of talent on display is staggering. Back in the day even the idea that you could line up Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Harrison Ford, Gibson, Snipes etc. etc. in the same film would have been ludicrous. Such a film would have cost the GDP of a large European country, and the egos on show would have likely seen it struggle to even finish shooting without someone, if not everyone, walking off set. Luckily the passage of time has not only seen most of these guys’ pay-packets shrink, but also their egos; or maybe it’s just that they’ve decided their egos aren’t as important as a cheque?

Whatever the reason, for those of us who lived through that particular bullet strewn era, such a line-up makes you excited before a shots fired. Not that this is a guarantee of success. You can stick the Die Hard label on it, and you can get Bruce Willis to play John McClane again, but when a film is as turgid as Die Hard 5 was even nostalgia can’t make it enjoyable.

By contrast The Expendables 3 is a joy to watch. Is it a thoughtful, beautifully acted and wonderfully directed masterpiece? No. Is it a fun action packed thrill right? Hell yeah!

The set pieces are well handled, and for a cast this big Hughes manages, for the most part, to ensure things don’t become too unwieldy. Yes some of the parts are little more than extended cameos; notably Arnie, Harrison Ford, the shoehorned in Jet Li and a blink and you’ll miss him Robert Davi, and yes some people, especially Snipes, are a trifle underused (aside from a very funny prison related joke) but no matter their screen time everyone gets a moment or two to shine, even the new recruits, or the Expendababies as they might be better called.

 Actually the new recruits are ok, which given they could have been bland and faceless next to the aged pros around them is quite an achievement. In particular Ronda Rousey as the only female Expendable more than holds her own (even if her “Men!” catchphrase is a bit cringe worthy.

Really we need to talk about Antonio Banderas though, because his turn as the overly talkative Spanish mercenary Galo is so hilarious he almost steals the whole damn film! Stallone and Statham continue to have great chemistry together, Lundrgren remains a wonderful straight man and, whilst he may be looking increasingly old, it’s still great to see Arnie wielding a gun and shouting for people to “Get to the CHOPPAH!”. Whilst he’s made mistakes one hope that Gibson can be redeemed, because here he reminds you just how good he can be, and as for Harrison Ford…I swear I saw a twinkle in his eye of the kind I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Roll on Expendables 4!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.