I usually review movies by the set standards of the genre they represent. So, going into Expendables I knew what was expected – A testosterone fueled look back at the heydays of 80s action movie age, when megastars like Arnold and Stallone ruled the roost, the one which would be low on character development and high on the nostalgia and fun quotient. The third outing however isn’t as much fun as the previous two installments. The nostalgia factor wears thin pretty quick as it comes across as over-bearing and the plot, over-simplistic and juvenile.
Stallone hands over the directorial duties to Patrick Hughes which is a bad decision on hindsight, juggling a cast as huge as this is quite risky, Stallone managed it quite well for the first two parts of Expendables. Hughes missed to portray the emotional high points of the movie to the point they appeared to be farcical, especially the part where the part Terry Crews is injured, he gets sniggered in his butt, I’m not sure if this was intentional and it certainly didn’t look like it with the accompanying whacky score.
I was disappointed to see Stallone’s name pop up in the story credits, he isn’t known for writing complicated plots, but they do have a lot of heart as seen in the wonderful but under-rated Homefront. I think Homefront’s director Gary Fleder would be a better choice to direct this one. The acting is all over the place, except for Mel Gibson, who channels his Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon, Antonio Banderas, who is quietly staging a comeback ala Matthew McConnaughey, is hilarious, but the scene stealers have to be Jason Statham and a really grouchy Harrison Ford who fails to understand Statham’s accent. Also what was the point of employing Jet Li and not showcase his martial arts talent rather than show him just shoot bad guys, which is another major issue with this movie. Look at John Woo’s Hard Boiled or A Better Tomorrow, he had Chow Yun Fat shoot bad guys for 45 minutes straight in the most innovative and fun ways which had never been seen by audiences. Expendables 3 makes you wish they were just done with it and becomes tedious, the end fight scene is also the exact same as Expendables 2. Hence, Expendables 3 really becomes a victim not of online piracy but laziness.
The PG-13 rating costs the movie a few precious spots and may be a primary reason why it didn’t work this time, the newcomers fail to make much of a splash, Ronda Rousey, whom I adore, isn’t much of an actor, sadly and Gina Carano would have been a better fit. Hopefully, both are paired together in the All-Female spin off, The Expendabelles. Wesley Snipes would have killed with better lines but is relegated to just one relating to his jail term. Arnold too appears to be a shadow of previous self but watch out for the infamous, “Get to The Choppa” which still is Gold.
In conclusion, Expendables 3 is too dumb to be satire and too smart to be a parody. I’m really hoping that the inevitable Expendables 4 makes up for this misstep in the franchise. Keeping a tight crew this time rather than glorified cameos wouldn’t hurt, Jackie Chan is in talks for the next instalment as the primary antagonist. Here’s wishing for an extended Jet Li-Jackie Chan bout.