by Dawn Taylor
The Expendables 3 is a supremely self-assured movie. It‚Äôs made by people who know what their audience wants and needs from the film, and have carefully, lovingly crafted it to those specifications.The title, for starters: The Expendables 3. This is the third movie about The Expendables. There‚Äôs no need for some colon and a girly subtitle! It stands its ground, and says what it is! It‚Äôs The Expendables, dammit. Number Three. If you saw the first two, and you‚Äôre willing to pay money to see the third, all you need to know is that it exists, and you will buy that ticket, because there will be manly men, and guns, and explosions. For the third time.
"The perfect action flick for guys who can count to three."
The film starts smack in the middle of an action sequence, like a dirtier, louder, dumber James Bond film. There‚Äôs a Russian prison train. Sylvester Stallone is flying a helicopter, with Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren hanging off the sides. There‚Äôs shooting, and mayhem, and Stallone lands the ‚Äėcopter on top of the train, Stathem and Lundgren board the train, and then there‚Äôs more shooting and mayhem. They rescue a crazy-eyed Wesley Snipes, and head off for more adventure. [!]Wooo-hoo!says that guy in the back row who you want to kick in the nuts.
After a bit of light-hearted, testosterone-charged banter, the gang engage in more driving and yelling (‚ÄúGO GO GO!‚ÄĚ is how Stallone gives commands), and one of the team ends up in the hospital. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up for a minute to tell Stallone, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm getting out of this business, and so should you,‚ÄĚ and then leaves (don‚Äôt worry, he comes back later!). Next, Stallone bumps into Harrison ‚ÄúAction Grandpa‚ÄĚ Ford, playing a rumpled bag of skin in a suit who a) performs the Exposition Man duties to explain who the bad guy is for this installment, and b) delivers the time-honored ‚Äúyou fucked up the mission, and you only get one more shot‚ÄĚ speech. Ford ends his scene by telling Stallone, ‚ÄúRelax, you‚Äôll give yourself a stroke‚ÄĚ because in case you didn‚Äôt notice yet, they are very old.
The Parade of Geriatric Action Heroes continues with Mel Gibson as the picture‚Äôs featured villain, who we see pay $3 million for a painting so that we know he‚Äôs rich. Then Stallone gives a speech to the Expendables about how doing what they do is going to end up with them all dead, and he can‚Äôt live with the responsibility of getting them killed. Then he heads off to Do What Needs To Be Done, because he‚Äôs a Lone Wolf, and a Real Man, and he Walks Alone. Which apparently means finding new guys that he doesn‚Äôt care about so he can get them killed instead.
Because he doesn‚Äôt really walk alone! Not even close.ExPen3 has a bigger cast of heroes than either of the films that came before it. Kelsey Grammer, some sort of talent scout for Expendables, takes Stallone on a tour of younger, prettier potential team members (including the supremely awesome MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.) Stuff happens. The old Expendables and the new Expendables don‚Äôt like each other. Unsurprisingly, grudging respect comes about after they all kill many, many people together.
The whole thing has a jovial, self-mocking quality that assumes the viewer is fully aware that they‚Äôre watching famous actors working for a paycheck (Stallone initially rejects Antonio Banderas as a team member because he‚Äôs too old, and when Snipes is asked why he was imprisoned, he quips, ‚ÄúTax evasion.‚ÄĚ)For lack of a better word, The Expendables 3 is cute. That seems an odd description for a movie that‚Äôs largely just shooting, explosions, and death. But it has all the gravitas of boys playing in a sandbox ‚Ä¶ it‚Äôs just that, in this case, the boys are middle-aged, slightly over the hill movie stars.
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originally posted: 08/15/14 17:45:26