Darke Reviews – Expendables 3 (2014)


Ah the stars of yore trying to get one last paycheck. Except, it’s not the stars of yore in this one; is it? What happens when you try to make a movie where you have older actors and individuals trying to pass the torch to younger ones? This sounds like one of the rumored Ghostbusters 3 plots. Should Ghostbusters 3 ever come the out of pre production ecto containment unit it’s been in, the producers need to watch this movie for pointers.

Which pointers? Good? Bad? Ugly?

Well…rather than keep a director between films they went with a new guy. Seems silly to not keep whats working, but who am I to understand studio logic. Ok, other film buffs reading this stop laughing at that oxymoron. This time we get Patrick Hughes who has previously directed a relatively small scale film called Red Hill. I’ve seen this and it’s good. I’ve seen Expendable 3 and I can tell you a budget isn’t always the best thing. He keeps a good style and knows the right places to focus and what he does with what he has is actually really good. Sadly, Stallone is one of the producers so I know how his hands may have been tied. I also said he does well with what he had.

What he has is a Three Writer Script. You may commence shuddering if you’ve read my reviews before. Stallone, aside from starring and producing also provides the Story credit and one of the screenplay credits. Olympus has Fallen writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt gives us our other two. As much as I like Olympus has Fallen for what it does right, this script fails in almost all those respects.

It doesn’t make you care about any of the characters that are being introduced of which there are many. You can’t keep track of the ones that you have from the previous films and nothing with them even seems to matter. The stakes *just* aren’t there. In a PG-13 film they just didn’t go enough to the places they need to. I am not talking blood and guts, I can get good action without that. I’d rather have no blood than CGI blood. I mean risks. I mean violence. I mean honest to darkness threat to characters to make me even believe for a moment they may be in danger.

But this is Expendables. Why bother with a plot? That’s actually the problem. They did. It needs to be judged. It’s a very thin plot and honestly they spend more time on the slow beats than they should have. Much like Expendables 1 there’s a lot of things that are focused on that no one wants. The first twenty minutes and the last twenty minutes have it all. The down side is the movie runs just over two hours. That means there’s nearly eighty minutes of – why am I watching this?

Acting? Ok now you are trying to make *me* laugh writing this. That is so not in this film. Stallone, Statham, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Li, Couture, and reprise their roles from the first two films. Willis was asked to leave after being a prima donna. There’s even a joke in the movie about it. We introduce Snipes who gets a lovely little joke at his own expense. Gibson who seems to be playing an evolved version of one of his former characters. Kelsey Grammer, I do not know why he is in this either.  Banderas is a joke that runs too too long. Ford walks in, is Ford and walks off. Its enough.

We also introduce Victor Ortiz (Boxer and Dancing with the Stars…no seriously!), Kellan Lutz (from the godawful Hercules earlier and Twilight), Glenn Powell since Chris Evans was busy, and our first real female – Ronda Rousey an MMA fighter. Rousey and Lutz are the most memorable additions. Rousey shining as a fighter in her sequences and generally being kinda awesome. She should get used more if she wishes and can be a new action star along side Carano and Gadot. We do need more women action heroes and she’s a good start.

The action, when we get it is explosive (no pun intended) and intense. It’s well done, well choreographed and just generally good. When you can see it. There’s the tiniest bit of shaky cam for reasons that I cannot fathom. Quick cuts hide some of the flaws. The only one with a really good hand to hand fight is Rousey. Her fight is good and watchable. The gunplay is all you’d want to see from an 80’s film and just as ridonkulous.

TL;DR?

Yeah, so this happened. It is ridiculous, but if you can just watch the opening act and final act you get everything you want. Nothing else is relevant. Really – NOTHING else. It might explain why it tanked in the box office this weekend. It only made 3 times what Willis was asking to be paid for his work in the movie. I will let that sink in.

If you are bored and want some action schlock – go see this. If you can find a way to catch just the opening and ending you’ll be in really great shape.

I WAS entertained mostly, but I don’t believe in sending folks to movies for mostly.

Go see Guardians of the Galaxy (again), TMNT, or save your money for SIn City: A Dame to Kill for.

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