THE EXPENDABLES 3 | MOVIE REVIEW

Kernel John hits up those old codgers who think they still have it. They definitely have the budget, they definitely have the cast and they definitely have the balls. Everyone is back plus a few extras. THE EXPENDABLES 3 features Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to their roles in the first two films with Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford joining the all-star cast along with Kellan Lutz, MMA star Ronda Rousey, welterweight boxing champion Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell. Yep, that’s a lot of packed punch right there – I assume they basically all work for free. THE EXPENDABLES 3 is out tomorrow 14th August 2014 in Australia with thanks to Roadshow Films. It runs for 126mins and surprisingly is only rated M. Enjoy John’s review below………all the best……….JK.

 

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REVIEW BY JOHN MCPARLAND

LOVE ACTUALLY did it beautifully in 2003. DAYS OF OUR LIVES has done it for nearly half a century, and the most famous recent example of it being done stupidly well would have to be HBO’s GAME OF THRONES.

I am of course talking about ensemble casts. Many shows and films feature multiple characters, but the cast in the vast majority of these productions are all striving towards the same goal. While there is generally a primary “star” of the show, each individual actor is merely a flat, two-dimensional facet of the protagonistic boulder barrelling its way through the plot. Most storyline complications could easily be accomplished by a single actor, if said actor was not written to be a useless dropkick. Apparently, fallibility in characters makes audience members better able to relate to the overall scene. It seems that were directors to present us with too perfect a hero, our primitive cerebrum would think we were in a dream and constantly try to wake us up. Entire crops could be lost! So, weaknesses are introduced to the main star, thus allowing supporting cast members to step in and do their bit, but essentially all the different actors represent the same progressive force.

 

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A film containing an ensemble cast is one where each actor is given an equal amount of screen time and importance to the overall whole; there is no single star per se. But more importantly still, it is one where each individual character is driven by their own specific goals and motivations, some of which may run counter to those of the other stars. Complications in such scenarios are usually brought about through character interactions, instead of external stimuli; for example, warring between family members versus a family caught between warring nations.

As such, THE EXPENDABLES 3 (as well as 1 and 2 for that matter) is not actually an ensemble cast production, despite it constantly being billed as one. Sure, it has a plethora of stars that all get equal face time, but all of them are striving for the same goal. There is no difference of opinions, ambitions, motivations, or objectives among characters (other than the standard, halfhearted rebellious comment here and there to add tension). This film is actually an “all-star” cast production, and while the all-star part is great, the attempt by Australian director, and big-budget first timer, Patrick Hughes to shoehorn this movie into the first part of the ensemble cast definition (equal screen time) made it atrociously long and boring.

 

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Sylvester Stallone returns as Barney Ross in the third instalment of this homage to classic, over the top action flicks of the ’80s and ’90s. The good guys’ names are massively clichéd (such as Chinese star Jet Li as Yin Yang), the bad guys’ names are gratingly awkward (such as Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks), and the terrorist nations are stereotypically fake (such as the “incredibly corrupt tiny nation of Osmanistan”). This is exactly what you would expect from this type of film.

The story opens with the near fatal shooting of one of Ross’s original Expendables. Riddled with guilt and concern over such a narrow escape, Ross believes his gang is too old to be effective any more, and decides to disband them rather than risk them being injured or killed in the field. Apparently, Ross has no concept of what the term “expendable” means. Seeking a newer, younger group of mentally unstable mercenaries, Ross turns to recruiter Bonaparte, played by Kelsey Grammer. Bonaparte checks his little black book of death and aids Ross in assembling a new team, a team that is promptly captured by the enemy, in yet another tribute to Ross’s stellar leadership skills. With his tail between his legs, Ross turns to his former teammates to aid in rescuing his younger crew, knowing that it is a trap and probably a one-way mission. Again, Ross really needs to double check the meaning of “expendable” before attempting a suicide rescue mission for a group of killers he only just met.

 

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As you can see, the storyline has a few holes in it. However, the real failing of the film is that it tries too hard to be a meaningful movie. I came to see explosions, gunfights, cheesy one-liners, explosions, action, martial arts, and explosions! Instead, I get a production that focuses on character development and (attempted) emotional interactions. You see, after Ross’s already-established-in-the-previous-two-films band of brothers gets turfed, we spend a good forty-five minutes recruiting and getting to know the new gang, WHO INSTANTLY FAIL AT THEIR MISSION, at which point we meet the old boys again. What the hell was the point of it all? Do not waste my time with useless character progression; just shoot something already! But that is exactly the problem with a star-studded line up. Everyone needs to have their fifteen seconds. As a result, the film drags tremendously in the middle, and even an action packed final act does not do enough to revive my already bored senses. Directors take note, this is exactly how NOT to do a quasi-ensemble production if you are trying to make an action film.

The action itself, when you see it, is actually quite spectacular. A lot of stuff blows up, which is always fun. The fight scenes are well choreographed, and the special effects are impressive. The dialogue is also very funny. There are many in jokes and references to an actor’s past films. At one point, Harrison Ford complains to Stallone that he cannot comprehend what Jason Statham is saying, getting Stallone to repeat everything Statham says, in a humorous jab at Stallone’s famous inability to be properly understood by audience members in every film he has ever made. In addition, towards the end of the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger repeats one of his most quoted lines ever from the ’80s, to much laughter and applause by my surrounding cinemagoers.

 

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Overall, THE EXPENDABLES 3 leaves a lot to be desired. Considering the sheer volume of excellent talent present in this film, it should have been a lot better than it was. Having seen the previous instalments, I knew what I was getting in for; I was not expecting the next THE GODFATHER in terms of cinematic greatness, but even still, the film’s plot was convoluted and bland. Considering the type of movie this is, there was too much pointless story and not enough action. See it for your favourite action hero of days gone by and some gems of dialogue, but be sure to lower your expectations before entering the cinema.

 

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