ooo

This one’s worth skipping.

Trite; back to quare 1

Trite; back to square 1

I was harsh on the first Expendables. I thought it completely failed to deliver that which the ads promised, a dumb but lovable action-fest starring all the great action heroes from the past, and was instead a clunky, tedious letdown with little to no actual interaction between these brilliant stars. Was The Expendables 2 technically better as a film? Perhaps not, but it gave me all the adrenaline-packed, testosterone-filled mindless fun the first film lacked entirely and I did enjoy watching it immensely.

Mel Gibson holds the newcomers captive in the third act of the third 'Expendables'.

Mel Gibson holds the newcomers captive in the third act of the third ‘Expendables’.

Now there’s a third one, and alas, we’re back to square 1. Most of the regulars from the series thus far are back, the most notable exception being Bruce Willis, which sadly disperses the power trio that could have been the main hallmark of the franchise: Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But hey, at least we got Harrison Ford I guess; not that this redeems that which is, well, not precisely a masterpiece.

Back for more arse-kicking are Stallone as Barney Ross, the leader of the indestructible Expendables, Schwarzenegger as old-timer Trench, Jason Statham as knife expert Lee Christmas, Jet Li as martial artist Yin-Yang, Terry Crews as “the guy with the big guns” Caesar, Randy Couture as Toll Road the bomb expert, and Dolph Lundgren as Gunnar the dim-witted Swede. You gotta have those. The new additions to the family are Antonio Banderas as Bosnian war veteran Galgo, the afore-mentioned Ford as a gruff CIA operations officer, and Kelsey Grammer as a retired ally of the Expendables. There’s also Robert Davi as an Albanian mafia boss. They even got Wesley Snipes involved, making plenty of in-jokes about the man’s real-life prison sentence, which ended just last year.

The villain of the movie, an insane arms dealer named Conrad Stonebanks, is played by none other than Mel Gibson. We find out that he was the co-founder of the Expendables alongside Barney Ross and that he has plans of wiping them all from the face of the Earth. Why? Who cares? As long as we get an explosive spectacle on par with the last movie, surely the viewers will be satisfied no matter what silly plot you try to fit in-between it all. Sadly, we don’t get that, and the PG-13 rating that forbids what violence might have saved this movie is only the start of our problems.

expectables

One plot aspect worth bringing up is the younger actors; actors that a fan of Stallone, Schwarzenegger etc. will in great likelihood not be familiar with, but that’s the point. There is a scene where Barney tells the old gang that it’s time to split up and so he somberly leaves them behind as he seeks out a younger gang to comprise the Expendables (or the “Exchangables” as my brother called them). This is supposedly meant to reference how worn-out these old, legendary actors are in real life and how they must now make room for a new generation of action heroes. The film’s trying to be deep, how charming.

It might have worked if these were bigger up-and-coming actors known for their badass roles, like Chris Pratt or Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t know who Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell or Victor Ortiz are, but they weren’t very good in this film and they took too much screentime from the actors I wanted to see, making this feel almost as gargantuan a letdown as the first movie, but thankfully not quite so bad.

Even so, excluding a few funny lines out of Antonio Banderas and yet another good villainous performance from Mel Gibson (see also Machete Kills), there isn’t much fun to be had with the actual legends in this movie either. Not only is the main team sidelined for the sake of the newbies I’ve mentioned, but Terry Crews gets injured and put in a coma early on, Jet Li doesn’t appear until the end (and doesn’t even get a memorable frying pan duel to compensate for his lack of screentime), Wesley Snipes’ subplot about finally being back is hardly focused upon any more than it is in the trailer, Harrison Ford was just some shady old guy in a suit that flew a helicopter one time, and Arnold doesn’t get to do much aside from making Predator references. It doesn’t help that the tone has gone back to being too serious for its own good, nor that there’s a multitude of melodramatic moments that I guess are supposed to be sad or something.

It's been fun, gentlemen, but perhaps it's time to say farewell.

It’s been fun, gentlemen, but perhaps it’s time to say farewell.

You’re out of luck if you think that the action scenes are a saving grace, because they’re all composed of CGI that looks even cheaper than those black-and-white promotional posters where the actors just sit around in a photo studio and grin stupidly at the camera. My brother kept pointing out fake-looking choppers and unrealistic smoke simulation while I was too busy thinking about that one scene where Kelsey Grammer and Stallone are driving a car in front of the most obvious bluescreen I’ve seen in ages. The blatant studio lighting on their faces, the day-for-night filter, the edges around their heads – I had classmates in high school that could do better than this. Usually, at least.

There really is no reason for you to pay money for this when you could instead go see Guardians of The Galaxy a third time. Or you could just go see the version of this film that got leaked online. It’s cheaper and probably easier on the senses.

1.5/5 whatever

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