Boy, do these guys ever expend. In the first instalment, director Sylvester Stallone expended with the opportunity to over-glorify the violence in exchange for a bunch of talking. In The Expendables 2, director Simon West ramps up the energy and voltage for a reasonably satisfactory outing. And now, the climax – Expendables 3 – and a director who’s so fresh faced, he directs as if he’s watching Expendables 2 on an iPad and pausing it every five seconds and trying to replicate the action. Almost any reason to sit through two hours of this shit is expended before the credits start. The tagline this time around screams “Never send a boy to do a man’s job”. As far as hiring directors go, it would seem that the movie can’t even take its own advice.
It seems unlikely that there’ll ever be an Expendables 4 – which, believe me is a great thing – but surely the movie studio knows better than to resign the franchise to the hell of a PG-13 rating? Okay it’s for a quick buck, but consider the long-term; anyone who’s too young to watch this movie unsupervised an adult will almost certainly want to revisit the previous R-rated outings. The previous, and best, two of the franchise are a hell of a lot more violent than this watered-down shite. So, who exactly does the MPAA and BBFC think they’re protecting, anyway? It’s all about the $$$, dummy.
Barney Ross (Stallone) and his innumerable Expendable team (collectively tallying in numbers roughly twenty-five times more than their combined brain cells) are totally shagged out and spent from rescuing Wesley Snipes from a prison train. He was imprisoned for tax evasion (lol). Now Barney feels as if they’re past it, and after a quick visit to Mogadishu (via every city known to man) they spot Mel Gibson shooting Somalians and realise that the main bad guy is still very much alive. Barney thought he was dead. But he’s not. And now they’ve been spotted. So Barney assembles a bunch of new recruits, including a woman – seemingly to deflect the PC crowd criticism – to go and kill Mel Gibson. And so they go, and they get kidnapped, except Barney who runs home. And then the old Expendable bunch go with Barney to kill Mel Gibson and free the new kids. With Antonio Banderas.
Christ, where to start? Okay, the script is packed full of awfully embarrassing dialogue and blatancy in its plotting. They rescue him, chat, try to kill him, chat some more, get kidnapped, get angry, get tooled up, get their mates, get even. Boring as shitehouse.
Next up: the direction. Or lack, thereof. Patrick Hughes’ direction is as inspired and exciting as his surname. It’s mediocre at the very best. In some areas, it’s very clear that characters are not driving their car or plane. Some of the green screen is choke-worthy. An entire monologue by Banderas, who’s standing still in an aircraft hanger, is so poorly framed in a medium close up that his prancing head frequently ducks in and out of shot. The camera is so desperate to look away at any hint of violence. The pacing is piss poor. Hughes is an awful director, and this could signal his last effort.
The characters. Piss poorly drawn, at best. There are some characters with literally nothing to do. Dolph Lundgren is one of them; consigned to be on the receiving end of a number of annoying character’s annoying dialogue. Jet Li – one of the world’s best martial artists – is given the two funniest lines of dialogue and chokes them down so that we cannot hear the punchline. He spends the rest of his time in a helicopter firing a machine gun. No punches, no kicks. And then there’s every other member of the So Solid Crew – all 10,000 of them – each equipped with approximately six seconds of rapid montage backstory (she, the bouncer – he, the … closet homosexual) that is quickly put to use in their generous 17 second flagship fight in the third act of the movie. Ohhh, look! He’s about to point the gun at the bad guy’s head and pull the trigger – BLAM! – camera cuts, not merely away, but to another scene where Jason StaaaayyyFAM is elbowing people in the tits, and, ohh.. here comes a neck break – KERRCCHHH:- CUT to Arnie choking down a stogie saying something funny like “Let’s go to da Choppah!” to the team, as the routine and artificially shite electronic timer counts down the building to explode.
The last act takes place somewhere in Russia. The first two acts take place in as many cities beginning with a consonant as it can cram in. There’s a whole section involving Kelsey Grammar where he and Stallone visit every single city in every country for some reason or another; either they’re recruiting tomorrow’s action heroes, or stopping a runaway train from crashing through the cinema. If there was ever a fourth instalment, they’d need to hop in a spaceship and start recceing far flung galaxies to find fresh squad members.
And this third act – the entire bunch of Expendables not particularly expending anything other than carbon dioxide as they hurriedly exasperate the “usual” shit with a plethora of masked bad guys. I mean, I think that should be plural, but it oh so easily could have been just the one stunt performer in the same mask. I dunno. We spend the movie wondering where the token second-in-command big bad guy who gets a nasty death is. He jumps out of a moving vehicle just as he’s required, to get pummelled by I-can’t-remember-who-in-a-PG-13-kinda-way. It’s shite.
There is but one saving grace about The Expendables 3. That is Mel Gibson. At a cool fiftysomething years old, he still commands the screen and the wrinkle factor. He doesn’t just chew the scenery as the bad guy; he swallows it whole, jiggles two fingers down his throat, vomits the movie back up and pisses the remains down the nearest drain. If there’s ever a reason to watch this rancid toss, then it’s Mel Gibson.
I love Mel Gibson.
And I hate this film.
Author: Andrew Mackay