It was all under control…
When I was growing up all the best films were rated 18. You had Rambo and Predator and Aliens and anything by Tarantino. I’m not sure when all that changed but today it’s de rigueur for all films to be 12A now. The expendables is no different and quite frankly that’s a shame.
If you are not familiar with the expendables it’s an action film mega-mix that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s over the top and it pokes fun at itself. Essentially it’s a pastiche of it’s predecessors but can’t quite hit that same cult following probably because we are restricted to an available-for-all classification.
The expendables 2 was a pretty big mis-step in my book. It had over the top action scenes with little to no plot/reason behind it and dialog stolen from other films that was all put together with the subtlety of TOWIE star Gemma Collins smashing her way through a Shakespeare play.
So, when the film starts with the usual crew breaking out Doc (Wesley Snipes) in an unnecessarily over the top action scene I couldn’t help but think it’s going to be as dumb as the second film. Thankfully the Expendables 3 then takes a step back in the right direction. Once Snipes is with the crew they are hired to take down a mystery target who turns out to be Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) a ‘frienemy’ of Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and someone who was previously presumed dead.
The mission goes south and Barney disbands the team out of guilt. He still wants to finish the mission so he asks Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to help him put together a new team of youngsters who don’t care if they live or die. The recruitment sequence was missing focus as Barney and Bonaparte were meant to be friends but you just don’t get that vibe from Sly. There’s also an odd attempt at “natural” dialog between the two like the royale with cheese dialogue from Pulp fiction that is just out of sync with the rest of the film.
Thankfully the new recruits all seem to have a good chemistry and when the action starts it’s more along the lines of a mission impossible action scene and breathes a fresh air into what could become a stale formula of balls out action and camaraderie.
This also affords the opportunity to have some friction and inter-character play between the new and the old teams which again feels new and refreshing to the series. In fact, the new faces pretty much steal the show. Smilee (Kellan Lutz) is a convincing leader of the new school while Luna (ex MMA star Ronda Rousey) is just bad ass.
However the real star of the show is a rather fallible Galgo (Antonio Banderas) who suffers from verbal diarrhoea. His desperation to join the expendables and subsequent ramblings are a little irritating but suddenly become endearing in the final action scene specifically when Galgo fights alongside Luna. Hell, if they had one, I’d watch their own spin off film.
Honorable mention has to go to some of the dialogue that breaks the third wall and refers to the stars older films or personal life. Listening to Snipes semi-sarcastically saying he was locked up for tax evasion tickled a funny bone and Harrison Ford saying that Sly should de-stress otherwise he will have a stroke – a nod to the fact that Stallone had a troubled birth that lead to a speech impediment and partial paralysis on one side of his face, just like a stroke, although most of the audience seemed to miss the irony. A line that wasn’t missed was Arnie shouting the classic Predator line “get to the chopper!”
The film starts a bit naff but then builds nicely to the point where both the old and new join together to grow the team of expendables. Perhaps they should have called it the Expandables.
Unfortunately we are left with the weirdest little scene that I still can’t get my head around. Jet Li has joined Arnie as he pays more and Sly does. They then proceed to do this weird whispering and giggling like a pair of schoolgirls after another whisper giggle and a surreal embrace I felt more confused than a bear wearing a tutu! What a weird way to end an otherwise pretty enjoyable film?
- A good old fashioned action flick
- Banderas is worth the entry fee alone
- Hand to hand combat scenes are very good
- If you don’t dig 80s action films
- The Stallone/Grammer and Arnie/Li chemistry is err… odd
- Not enough gore to be a true homage