Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Expendables III Review

To me, The Expendables has been a franchise that has never aimed too high, but still delivers decent installments every time. The premise is simple; get a bunch of 80's and 90's action stars together and have them blown shit up. You don't need to get more complicated than that. However, the series has been pretty unspectacular about its premise and usually puts its action icons in situations that aren't too ludicrous. The Expendables usually go to military operations and take down enemies with so much as a campy or cheesy wink to the camera, which is the best course of action for a movie series that's solely comprised of larger than life personas. In the third installment, The Expendables III manages to still be wholly unremarkable, but in an enjoyable way.


As a shock to no one, the Expendables start to worry about the fact that all of them are getting old. They're going on more and more dangerous missions, and they aren't getting any younger, but its not until an old member named Conrad Stonebanks, played by Mel Gibson, appears and tries to kill all of the Expendables do they really feel that their time is up. Sylvestor Stallone disbands the group, but because he has a personal vendetta against Stonebanks, he forms a team of younger operatives to fight against him and get revenge for nearly assassinating one of his teammates. However, the only way to actually defeat Stonebanks is by combining the old members and the new members together for one last stand against this powerful threat.

Did you care at all about that paragraph I just wrote? Well you really shouldn't. This movie's plot is absolutely pointless and only serves as an excuse to get these action stars together. I don't see these guys as characters or even as stereotypes. I see all of these actors as their action personas and I see this whole franchise as an excuse to blown up tons and tons explosives. That's all these movies have ever strived to be, and that's fine. I could always go for a dumb action movie. Hell, I'm looking at my little library of films right now, and I can see a few of them that are stupid, macho action movies that only exist to spout one liners.

It's like a military FPS, but with Stallone!
What makes The Expendables III inferior to those action movies of old though is that fact that they're missing that one key hook to sell me on their movie. It's missing a premise, It's missing a setting, an aesthetic, it's missing that sense of joy and cheesiness that made the Schwarzenegger movies of old work. Action movies like The Terminator, Die Hard, Commando, Demolition Man, Rambo, and Predator worked because they all had a setting and a premise that was unique to them. They had an identity. If I was to say to you "Do you remember Die Hard", you would get an image in your head of the movie. "Yippee Kai Yay Mother fuckers!" Mr. Takagi. Alan Rickman as the villain. The broken glass everywhere. John McClaine's bloody feet. There's an identity that the movie has.

The Expendables III on the other hand does not have an identity to link itself to. It sets itself firmly in our world, particularly in our world's military environment, but that doesn't make the movie stand out. It's a movie that has a bunch of people blowing shit up in a world that is uninteresting. There's nothing definable in the movie that will make me remember it. Instead, the closest thing to memorable that this movie has going for it is the fact Antonio Banderas is absolutely insane in this movie. Hell, I would recommend seeing this movie alone just to get a laugh out of Banderas, who does one hell of a job with the part he has.

The rest though feels so forgettable to me, but what sucks is that I know that the franchise isn't like that. I remember moments from the first movie that stood out in my mind. The guy getting a knife in his through. Steve Austin getting lit on fire. Terry Crews and his giant gatling gun. I remembered key moments from the movie that stood out to me. Even the second movie had some good one liners and set pieces that I really did enjoy. Here, there's nothing definable to this movie. It really does seem like franchise fatigue is setting in for this action movie bonanza.

Does that mean this movie is bad though? Not at all. It's still a ton of fun to watch Sylvester Stallone blow things up and use action movie logic to solve his problems. I even enjoy the throwaway lines that outright say that this movie is self aware. Everything is solid in this movie, but there's just nothing that I can really grab a hold of and say that I liked about the movie. The actors were good, but that's just because they were being themselves and blowing everything that moved to smithereens. How can you get legitimate character development from something that has no discernible identity?

This here is every action fan's wet dream
You know how in my Earth To Echo review I essentially didn't even review the movie because there was that little to talk about? I'm almost tempted to do the same, but in the reverse context. I don't think there's much merit to discussing this movie because this is one of those movies where you can read it on the tin. You know for a fact what you're getting yourself into when you sit down to watch The Expendables III. You know just what it is, what you'll get out of it, and in return, the movie won't try to be anything outstanding or particularly earth shattering. Do you want to see Terry Crews scream like a maniac and annihilate an entire dock of soldiers? Boom, there you go! What about Schwarzenegger shooting people from a helicopter? It has that too! Everything you expected about this movie is true and lives up to its expectation.

The Expendables III is a sure fire bet for the summer in the sense that it'll entertain you for two hours. It won't blow your mind, but its dependable, stupid, macho-man fun. Things explode, they're pretty lights, and one liners are uttered. I'm literally throwing my hands up in the air because I have no passion in talking about this movie in any legitimate way. It's The Expendables III. If this scene floats your boat, then you'll dig this movie. That's all there really is to say.

            




....Okay, let's get to the heart of the matter now. The reason why this review is so bare bones and has so little content to it is because I've just seen a movie that literally has me this drained. I saw this movie with my family because we all wanted to, and I did want to see it by all means, but there are much bigger fish to fry than The Expendables III. That's child's play compared to what's next. A movie that is taking me so longer to fully research and comprehend, that this review is mostly just to fill in until that review is released (though I did not see the movie solely as filler for this blog). No, the movie that has me doing this amount of research is a movie that's going to take me quite a while to talk about. Next time on The Critical Order...


Be afraid my fans... be very afraid...

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