The Expendables 3 sees Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) leave his old Expendables team in favour of some young blood to hunt down Stonebanks, a former Expendable himself, (Mel Gibson) and take him to the Hague to face charges as a war criminal. Stonebanks has plans of his own, and with an entire army at his disposal it might prove too much for the young Expendables by themselves…
So we’ve been treated to a third Expendables. I say treated because some of these guys are pretty old and although we love seeing them on screen, you just have to wonder how much longer they’re going to keep doing this – making an action film is pretty demanding, let alone a completely over the top action film with explosions and violence in nearly every scene.
When Stallone announced he was going to make the original The Expendables film back in 2009, he said he was going to bring together the greatest cast of action heroes ever to grace the big screen and he did an awesome job.
The Expendables 2 saw the cast grow again, adding Liam Hemsworth (Thor’s brother) into the mix along with the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme as the ice cold bad guy. Even Chuck Norris turned up as ‘the lone wolf’ to save our Expendable heroes. Both films were packed with action and a great sense of humour which poked fun at the stars’ previous actions films, like Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “wait here, I’ll be back” only to be told immediately “NO! You’ve been back enough!” by a very angry Bruce Willis who was in full on Die Hard mode at the time. These types of jokes and one liners run all the way through the films and we love it. They remind us they’re not taking themselves too seriously, something which every actor in those movies was guilty of doing back in the 80s and 90s.
For the third outing it seems Sylvester Stallone has gone OTT again, but this time it’s not just with the film, but with the cast itself. It’s massive, lets have a look at who’s in it… Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kelsey Grammer, Jet Li and Antonio Banderas. Then we have the young blood, Glenn Powell , Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz and Victor Oritz. All are relatively new to the big screen, with the exception of Kellan Lutz who been in all the Twilight films.
My problem here is that there are too many people. We’re treated to a great opening scene and an explosive finale but a huge chunk in the middle of the film is devoted to the new young Expendable team, finding them, seeing their skill sets and then watching them in action. Considering the majority of the plot revolves around them, their characters weren’t developed enough and I didn’t care about any of them, especially the Twilight guy who had a massive chip on his shoulder and only too predictably wanted to lead the group. All their time on the screen took away from seeing the original cast which is what I really wanted. I’d have been much happier had Crews, Couture, Li and Lundgren been given bigger roles than the mere minutes we see them for.
Antonio Banderas got a decent amount of time on screen and he didn’t disappoint. With a great combination of flamboyance and flare, he was a welcome addition to The Expendables 3. Every scene with him will have you chuckling at some point, I promise.
The humour from the first two films is still evident here. After breaking Wesley Snipes out of a maximum security special forces jail, he’s asked why he was in there in the first place, to which he replies “tax evasion…”. That one may well go over the heads of a few of the younger fans but it was a nice touch. We also have a classic Schwarzenegger line involving a chopper which got a huge cheer in my screening, and rightly so.
There still aren’t any women (excluding Ronda Rousey) in the The Expendables. I can think of at least half a dozen, hard-as-nails action heroines from the last 30 years in Hollywood who would eat up the young crew and spit out their bones. They’d even give the original guys a good run for their money and maybe this would have been a better plot for the film.
One final quandary with the movie is that they’ve made it a 12A where the last two films were rated 15. I can remember only one scene with blood in it, considering the body count in this film and the manner of violence made it look like an 80s A-Team episode at times. The previous two films were certainly a cut above that grade. They obviously did it to draw in a younger audience, but the ridiculous thing about the 12A rating is a child could be any age under that and as long as they’re accompanied by an adult they can watch the film. My point is that why would we want to be encouraging people younger than 15, let alone 12 to watch this sort of film? Granted, this is more of a gripe at the British Board of Film Classification but I don’t think the film companies are helping.
Overall this film has most things we’ve come to expect from The Expendables franchise, action, violence, explosions, humour, more violence, cool motorbikes, big names, and even more violence. It’ll keep you smiling all the way through, but it certainly isn’t as good as the first two.
3 / 5
If you liked this then why not check out Mission Impossible 2 & 3. Or how about going a little old school and seeing Stallone in his prime in the original Rambo?
So if you’re expecting a critical analysis of Expendables 3, I would recommend you close this window. Renowned for its historic cast of action/adventure actors and its excessive action, the series was always going to be a hit. Expendables 3 is no different, just a few new faces to spice it up a little. In all fairness, the series in general isn’t something you can look at and go, “These movies are solid pieces of theatre art”. It just doesn’t work that way. Not many action movies can really collect such praise from critics but draw a lot of support from fans for the real reason many people watch them. They’re fun. It’s the genre for the everyday man, not those who likeability sits firmly in the off position.
When we look at the Expendables, we see a big cast that has shifted fairly regularly over the series. This time around instead of having Bruce Willis playing Church, Harrison Ford took his place by killing Church off for good (Turns out Willis wanted £1million a day for filming). Of course we have the regular crew back but unfortunately, one of my favourites – Terry Crews – sat out for the majority of the film. Perhaps due to other commitments but at least we got to see him in action. Returning original Jet Li was also back in the fold and it was publicised heavily of his involvement but with only 5 minutes of actual screen time, I’m sad to say that it was a bit of a waste of time for him to have even turned up. Not entirely new and fresh, Arnie is back but this time he actually features throughout the movie getting his hands dirty and obviously we also have Wesley Snipes. Charged for Tax evasion, his return to the big screen ironically began in a train convoy returning to his black ops prison cell. With a little joke about his conviction thrown in, Snipes was an OG Expendable from the very beginning. After going a little mad for money, he got himself caught and went dark for 8 years. Once Barney Ross (Stallone) caught wind of his location, the plan was set into action and as you’ve probably seen in the trailers, he was busted out. With his help, the crew immediately go to a new destination to retrieve a bomb for the CIA. However, another OG Expendable by the name of Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) turns up even though Barney supposedly killed him many years back. Making a new name for himself and taking control of his own personal army, Stonebanks is now a billionaire weapons dealer who after finding out Barney was after him, sets out to cause him equal pain. Now you may be wondering who the new lot are and why they are even there. It turns out that after the encounter with Stonebanks, Barney retires the old group for their own safety in favour of a new crew who can hold their own but are a little messed up supplied by Kelsey Grammer. These include MMA’s Victor Ortiz & Ronda Rousey, actor and model Kellan Lutz and Glen Powell, joined in the final third by the not so fresh faced Atonio Banderas to take down Stonebanks for good. As ever, not everything goes to plan and the old crew jump back into the fray to help. Out of the new group, my least favourite is Kellan. When trying to act as this big hard man, he looks like he’s posing for a glamour shoot and it’s fairly off-putting. Not including the fact that his character is a dick and his acting is awful.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to what the movie is really about, the action. Its extremely fun and flows really well throughout. Enough explosions to give Michael Bay a hard-on the size of the Eiffel Tower, hand to hand combat with the experience of MMA fighters to really demonstrate how it’s actually done and general chaos and anarchy that they’ve always done so well. Obviously it wouldn’t be an action movie without a bit of a cheese fest and witty one liners and they kindly obliged with some hilariously funny quips from their previous roles or history. Although the acting is pretty awful, in the face of stunts and action scenes, many of the characters were very competent. Ronda sticks out the most to me. In the final action sequence, she has quite the scene which really displays her UFC prowess. Moves that were incredibly well choreographed with a blend of music and shifts between a few other characters did help to create atmosphere within in the building that was set to blow. The only iffy bit of action was between Barney and Stonebanks. The acting and script for the scene was frankly laughable.
So if you got this far, cheers. Many of you probably just want the basics and seeing that I’ve run out of steam, here it is. Poor acting, awesome cast of classics and newbies, hella fun and Michael Bay’s wet dream. Go watch it, have some fun and see the reason films exist. 6/10 for the outcome but that really shouldn’t count. PS – Have a creepy photo of Snipes down below…
The movie opens with an ultra-secure mobile prison in a train carriage heading towards a fortress with a high value prisoner on board. But the prisoner is of interest to some other people: a team of ageing human sandbags, who try to spring the prisoner the only way they know how: from a helicopter with huge amounts of explosives. And so begins The Expendables III.
These films are about two things: the action and the cast, and part 3 delivers both. It features ex-diver Jason Statham, ex-tax evader Wesley Snipes and ex-actor Sylvester Stallone with a roster of other big names and big bodies in the last of Stallone’s 80s-throwback action trilogy. Stallone looks like Simon Cowell’s plane crash-landed in the jungle, and he survived by eating the rest of the passengers and the jungle – by which I mean he’s in incredible shape for a man pushing 70.
Harrison Ford is a welcome addition, taking over from boring, wooden Bruce Willis after the star demanded a million dollars a day for the film. Ford is a unique icon who brings a sense of fun missing from Willis’s general person. Mel Gibson is the best villain of the trilogy (sorry Jean-Claude) bringing his still well-honed acting skills, and Antonio Banderas is an unexpected highlight as motor-mouthed Galgo.
But there are also some less well-known faces. Stallone’s Barney Ross retires the old gang in favour of some young guns carrying… newer guns, meaning a further half dozen characters are introduced to an already massively crowded film, like a post-apocalyptic Picadilly Circus. In some respects this benefits the plot, and means it isn’t just the same guys in the same situations we’ve seen twice before, but when they’re all onscreen together there are too many people to keep track of, and we’re left wishing the attention was more focussed on the old guys. Not seeing Jet Li do any martial arts is a particular disappointment.
This is the most well-rounded of the trilogy. Part one was just a poor-quality action film and part 2 delivered the action and comedy, but had no plot whatsoever. Part 3 is less funny overall, but the story gives all of its vast cast something to do, rather than just walking on, saying a catchphrase, then leaving. The action is spectacular, and there’s good interplay between the characters, even if some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired. But this is actually a fairly decent action film in its own right.
The novelty of seeing famous people together in a film has worn off, or has been killed off, if you saw Escape Plan or Grudge Match, so Stallone has wisely given this third parter more substance than before. The resultant film is a fun festival of fighting, a glorification of geriatric gun-wielding and a celebration of steroid-enhanced silliness.
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Yesterday while at my BG agency to pick up my cheques and pay commissions, I got into what ended up being a three-hour conversation with my agent, interrupted only by a coffee-run. While she has been very supportive of my principal acting projects and has watched me develop, she levied the criticism that I don’t promote myself well enough.
“Hmmm…” I mulled this over for a minute and determined that she is a master of understatement. In my own words, I chronically undersell myself, which can be a big no-no in the entertainment industry.
For whatever reason I have never tried to develop the self-promotion skill-set as I hang onto the naive belief that the work should speak for itself. That said, my agent’s words came at a time when I was faced with a serendipitous dilemma/opportunity. You see, last weekend I performed at Toronto’s Tast of the Danforth festival in a live-action show to promote The Expendables 3.
And, just yesterday, the official video for the performance hit youtube. Due to all of the team members promoting it heavily, we blew past our day one target and are well on our way to hitting our day two marks. But I want MOAR!!!
So going beyond the traditional “share on facebook, and get your parents to click ‘like'” I have decided that I want us to go above and beyond with a full-court press consisting of the following strategies:
1) Reshare the shit out of it every day this weekend. Usually I share things only once and hope for the best. Not this time. Im cramming it down the throats of the people who made the unwise decision to friend me on social; media.
2) Tweeting celebs. I have never gone this route but I figured I would join the rest of the team in doing this because they can only ignore so many tweets that call them out personally.
3) Press release: This is foreign territory to me and I only got the idea from my marketing-savvy brother Adam, but it makes sense. Right now he is editing my draft and when its all said and done Im gonna submit it to certain publications and hope for the best.
4) This blog post. If you are a follower and you are reading this I ask that you click this link. Enjoy it. Like it. Share it. Repeat. xoxo
5)Co-ordinated Reddit push. I conceived of this last night and have been working to co-ordinate many team members who are not familiar with Reddit. But at 8pm Eastern time tonight we are going to be posting a link to the video to various subs in the hope of gaining some traction. We would love it if you could join in this push and I will be publishing the links to the various threads once they go live in just over an hour.
Ultimately, the way I reconcile myself to this whole process is avoiding self-deception and also the deception of others. I know a lot of people would call this spamming and I don’t deny this but I think I want to find out for myself what merits there are (or aren’t) to being your own biggest fan. And, at the end of the day, I console myself with the fact that we aren’t “shining up shit and calling it gold,” but rather we are making sure an entertaining video that we worked our asses off to make gets the exposure it deserves.
Hope you like the video
I was bored this morning. I’ve spent my week off from work working on my writing and marathoning One Piece and Hell’s Kitchen. (I finished the Alabasta arc again and 6 seasons of Hell’s Kitchen. Really.) But since this was my last day, and I had no money to do much of anything and no gas to go much of anywhere, I decided to go to the mall.
I was driving along listening to Fantastic Baby by Big Bang, and trying to sing along, although I don’t speak a word of Korean, when I realized I’d missed the turn to take me to Farmington, and was instead in Canton. So I thought, I’ll go to the bookstore, and then maybe hit the mall after.
But the bookstore sucked me in, as usual, and I spent longer there than I realized, so I thought I’d just go a few more minutes down the road, to the movie theater in Avon, and see The Expendables 3. I was kind of surprised to find that it wasn’t playing there, but since I was there already, I went to see The Hundred Foot Journey.
Very enjoyable, a feel-good movie as you’d expect from the trailers. I liked that the French characters would slip into French, and the Indian characters into what I presume was Hindi, and they did NOT use subtitles. They were unnecessary; you just knew what they were saying anyway.
So it was over, and I was about to head back home, when I had a thought. I googled, and yes, indeed, Expendables 3 was playing at the theater in my hometown. And by the time I would get there, it would close to the next start time. So I went to see that, too.
It was what I’d hoped for. A joyful, testosterone fueled (yes, even with the first female Expendable joining the team) mixed martial arts brawl, with body armor and Really Big Guns, a tank or twelve, ‘get to the choppa’, and Mel Gibson surprisingly believable as a bad guy.
I was a bit disappointed that once again Jet Li had such a small role, and you had to wait nearly 3/4 of the film before he even showed up, and then when he did he only had 3 lines. Maybe 4. (And they left me wondering if the ‘get a room’ with Arnold was serious or a joke)
But for me, the movie was MADE by the newest Expendable – Galgo, played by Antonio Banderas. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed AB more than in this role. Every single line he had made me laugh, and there was one line I couldn’t quite catch because of the gunfire and the accent, and I was almost mad that I couldn’t stop the movie and rewind so I could hear it again, because it was probably freaking hilarious and I missed it.
I know it’s been getting panned, but who needs a plot? I quite loved it.
Barney augments his team with new blood for a personal battle: to take down Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables co-founder and notorious arms trader who is hell bent on wiping out Barney and every single one of his associates.
More nonsense from Stallone and co, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Chances are if you’ve seen the first 2 Expendables films, you’ll go and see this, and chances are you’ll like it. The opposite is true if you haven’t. The films have never been the great pastiches of the 80’s action films they attempt to emulate, but for the most part they’re good fun and its enjoyable seeing some of these old actors jumping about ridiculously again. To an extent that becomes a problem as the cast is as overblown as ever in this film, with attempts to add younger cast members clearly not working for the second film in a row. I’m paying to see Arnie, Sly, Lundgren and newcomer Snipes run about like they’re 25 again, not woeful nobodies like Kellan Lutz stealing screentime.
The third film is more of a kin with the second film in that it doesn’t take itself as seriously as the first perhaps did, and there’s plenty of opportunities to throw in cheesy Arnie lines to get a laugh. Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas are the main cast additions from the last film, with Snipes providing the most enjoyment and Banderas toeing the line between funny and annoying throughout. Gibson makes a good bad guy, but he’s not given enough to do as the filmmakers try to juggle everyone’s screentime, often without the greatest results.
The plot itself is fairly nonsensical, but in a film such as this it’s secondary to the cast and the cheesy dialogue – it’s fun enough seeing Stallone jumping off a blown up building like Usain Bolt without caring why its blowing up (the camera being sped up to make it look like Stallone was sprinting was hilarious at this point!). These films aren’t going to change the world, and they’re nowhere near as good as the classic action movies they use as a jumping off point, but they’re a fun enough way to spend 2 hours at the cinema with some creaking old action stars doing what they do best.
Directed By: Patrick Hughes
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger