UK Release: 14th August 2014
After the success of Stallone’s previous two instalments, ‘EXPENDABLES 3’, attempts to get some new younger blood into the franchise and take it into new territories, other than the whole ‘’greatest-hits-concert’’ approach the other two film did for all the old Hollywood action heroes . Directed by Patrick Hughes (behind the cult film ‘Red Hill’), this instalment see’s ex-expendable Mel Gibson send Barney Ross (Stallone) on a personal revenge mission, with the help of a newly placed together young team.
This new young team (made up of mostly by UFC/MMA cage fighters of Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz, along with Glen Powell and Kellan Lutz) is probably going to be the most significant part going forward with this film, not only that it also adds to members of cast on the poster. Instead of the usual self-referencing ‘’old-man-fires-gun-and-says-I’ve-broke-my-back-routine’’, the previous films employed as a way of humour, you have this younger generation constantly mentioning how old they are to ‘’do this job’’, effectively putting themselves over as the future of this franchise (Stallone even takes the mentor mantel). And this is the thing with ‘Expendables 3’, it is attempting to try get a new younger fresher audiences. There is a bigger use of more contemporary music to appeal to this younger audience and there is attempt here to widen the film to this younger audience by making the film a more ‘12A’ certificate. To do this there isn’t really any visual blood, there is no showing of any blade penetration in the knife attacks and there is a lot of use of wide angle shots. Some might find this an issue, however in its defence this is the homage to 80’s and 90’s Hollywood action pictures the first two films were trying to do. If anything it’s a homage of action pictures today, how these younger action stars are from the world of sport (Gino Carano does spring to mind when Rousey appears on screen), and there is greater need for more vehicle stunts (including a ‘Twisted Metal’ warehouse with fire pits sequence). Admittedly the ‘12A’ certificate doesn’t take away some of the bone crunching action beats of the third act.
The biggest issue to me is, that the group of young Expendables left (when they seem to ‘’take over’’ this film) don’t have much charisma, there is no cheesy catchphrases or larger than life images created on screen with their presence, something the previous two was very ‘’ knowing’’ about. And in a way I miss all that, as its mainstream Hollywood cinema I grow up on. Alot of the old guard (Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Kelsey Grammer, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Arnold Schwarzenegger) feel like there purpose in this is to support this younger group, to continue this franchise. And this is shame as it does introduce a fun Statham and Snipes (on fire here) rivalry which does disappears and never feels convincing when briefly mensioned again at the end. Grammer, Li, Lundgren, Arnie and Crews are more cameos, or if they are on screen have very poor side plots to try give them something to do. Again there is that general ‘’too old for this’’ humour which every Arnie and Stallone vehicle has to have after the year of 2010, and the self-referencing jokes (almost meta here, and few and far between this time) about Snipes character being sent to jail for ‘’tax evation’’, and Ford replacing Bruce Willis Church character as ‘’He is out of the picture’’, along with line references to ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Predator’ are also in. There is also a nice cameo from Robert Davi (everyone’s favourite on-screen drug baron of a particular era), and Banderas steals a lot of scenes (getting comedy that doesn’t work, to work) along with Mel Gibson (using this as part of his comeback trail, and arguably best thing of this film) and his nameless/truly expendable cannon fodder army.
It is very male testosterone induced, and the amount of static shots of big Jeep’s character get into to act as product placement is also very big male testosterone induced as well. I think the franchise has got to state (and in away this can be said the same in regards to ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’), where audiences will get an idea of what they are getting walking into this, even if its striped away its exploitation- like roots. Do you wish that Sly and co would have done this back in their prime – yes of course, and I do believe it would have been a lot better if they did.
To end though it will be interesting to see if this new wider audience it has gone for, go see this, and if the early online copies do affect it’s overall domestic and international box office pull. If I was to recommend someone one ‘Expendables’ film, and they were the target audience, the second one from Simon Craine is the one to go for, in all its exploitation glory!