Monday, July 28, 2014

The Expendables 3

The fact that I am writing this review about 3 weeks prior to the official release, is both radical and unfortunate. Radical, because chances are, if you’re reading this, there needs to be no explaining how incredibly amped (understatement) I was for The Expendables 3. So to see it early is incredible to me. On the other hand, it’s really unfortunate that someone essentially sabotaged the film’s opening weekend. Who knows, maybe it won’t affect it too much. Maybe it will. I’m a theatre manager, and I am STILL going to buy a ticket just on principal alone.

Before I delve into the film, I would like to stress that we do not know what the final theatrical version will be. It could be the same exact cut that was leaked online, or it could be a more polished version of the film.


FUCK. ME. They finally fucking got it right. And that isn’t to say that I don’t love the first two films. Though, tonally, they were very unbalanced. The first film took itself a bit too seriously. Another issue I have with the film is the way it was shot in certain scenes. A little too frenetic (and I don’t mean in a good way). Then you get to The Expendables 2, and it was a bit too cheesy. One-liners and nudges are fine, but to an extent. Also, the film looked really cheap in select scenes. Digital zooms distorting the film quality, sub-par CGI, etc. The Expendables 3 rectifies almost every issue from the previous films.

Obviously, the cast is the bread and butter of these films. And with each installment, they get exponentially more impressive! But Expendables 3 slays all. I’m still hazy from seeing Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a film together. And the additions of Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes? All other films being released this year, fuck off.

There are quite a few scene-stealers in the film as well. We’ll bang out the biggest one, and that is Antonio Banderas. I made a prediction based on the trailers that he would in fact, steal the movie, and he did. He’s fucking hilarious in the film. The Expendables films have always struggled with humor. It’s either guilty-pleasure corny or just plain bad. It’s never genuinely FUNNY. Banderas is genuinely fucking hilarious. Not one joke is flat and his delivery and comic timing are spot-on. He’s also fantastic in all of the action sequences as well. They also provide a decent backstory for him as well.

Another casting decision that paid off very well was… Kelsey Grammer. When he was cast, the entire internet scratched their head in unison. As did I. No, he’s not an “action guy” (despite him being in X-Men AND Transformers). But the role that he played didn’t call for him to be an “action guy”. He essentially just recruits grunts for special operations. A grunt manager, if you will. What shines the brightest is the chemistry between him and Stallone. They’re fucking awesome together. It’s strange. About 10-15 minutes of the movie is of them traveling together recruiting new team members. And Im not even kidding, if they did a road trip film together, it would be fucking rad. They play off of each other so well. The two characters obviously have a history together, and it’s conveyed perfectly on screen. So no, Kelsey Grammer was NOT miscast.

Onto Max Drummer. IE: Harrison Ford. Bruce Willis, you are not missed. Harrison Ford owned this role. So much so, that it needed to be addressed in the film. Stallone asks Ford’s character “Where’s Church?” in which Ford replies, “He’s out of the picture.” Another example of them getting the comedy right in this. That line is a perfect double-meaning quip. And to my surprise, they sprinkle Ford throughout the film pretty well. I would say he has about 6 scenes, which is about 4 more than I expected. There is no Harrison Ford Finger of Doom in this, but he does get a juicy F-bomb, which is always welcomed.

Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes and Schwarzenegger were all great in this as well. Dolph, much like the previous two plays a giant lumbering drunk. And much like the last one, he’s hilarious. He could have had more screen time, but with about 16 billing names, I guess he got a decent amount. Snipes is a perfect addition to the franchise. He would have been in this from its inception, I’m sure, but obviously his legal troubles prevented him from doing so. He plays a character named Doc. Before Statham’s character, there was Doc. He also so happens to be good with a Blade. Go figure. So naturally there’s a rivalry between him and Statham. And through that comes some pretty good chemistry between the two. And of course, we have Arnie… Doing what Arnie does. It took a while for him to dust off the rust, but after Escape Plan and Expendables 3, it’s safe to say… (Insert obligatory “HE’S BACK” line here). He too, is hilarious in this. Much like Expendables 2, he gets to play with the boys. And for the Jet Li fans, don’t get too excited, he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time. Though, he too gets to play with the boys.

And of course… Mel. It should be no surprise to anyone that he completely fucking decimated. His character bared a resemblance to his in Machete Kills (an arms dealer). But obviously this movie was much fucking better. He plays a character named Conrad Stonebanks. He was one of the founding Expendables, but then decided to steer into black market arms dealing territory. I gotta say, my one worry was that they wouldn’t give Mel enough screen time. And that wasn’t the case. Of course any movie can always benefit from more Mel, but I’m content with what I got. Fuck, did he own some scenes. One in particular is a scene where they capture him. The intensity between him and Sly was incredible. Gibson really pries into Stallone. The sure insanity that pours out of Mel’s eyes… It’s unmatchable. Stallone is lucky he got Gibson for the third installment, because if he had been cast as the villain in the first film, it would be a feat topping him.

Let’s get technical. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of improvements over the first two. One, it’s cleaner. I believe they used RED Cameras on this, and the quality (even from the leaked screener) looks great. I cannot wait to watch it in theatres. Second, the director Patrick Hughes did a great job on shooting the action. The action and set pieces were bigger and more elaborate. Another plus? The locations. They go from New Orleans, to Mexico, to Arizona, to Las Vegas, to whatever fictional country that Bulgaria stands in for. It was a visual treat to more than rubble locations.

With all the improvements this film made over the previous two, there is one issue that was not rectified. The CGI. Now like I said, maybe the screener that leaked is a cut from months ago! Who knows? So I won’t make final judgment until I see the theatrical release. Luckily there are a lot of practical FX and practical sets in the film, so there aren’t a whole lot of CG sequences. But when there are, it doesn’t look very good.

To address another issue the film had was the new team. In my mind, they weren’t horrible. They just didn’t do much for me. When they’re integrated with the original team (Statham, Lundgren, Couture) and the other new guys (Snipes & Banderas) they work just fine. But standalone, they’re just… Serviceable. Though, I believe that half of the time it took to introduce the new team, that time could have been spent on Snipes, Lundgren or Gibson.

The music. Brian Tyler always does a fantastic job with the scores he does for Sly. Be it Rambo, The Expendables, The Expendables 2. I was slightly disappointed with his score for this. Only because… It felt that there wasn’t one. All the themes used in this are in the previous two. There didn’t seem to be many new music queues. It literally sounded as if it was copy and pasted into the movie. Granted, they fit with all the scenes, it just wasn’t wholly original. I already pre-ordered the score, so I can again, make final judgment when I listen to it isolated.

And my final and biggest gripe: Sly vs. Mel. The fight scene was WAY too fucking short. I honestly recall it being a minute long. One minute. Rambo vs. Riggs. Rocky vs. Rockantansky. One minute. I would have been FURIOUS if they hadn't given Gibson enough screen time through out the film. But fortunately, they did.

If you want me to sum the film up in a couple simple words: THE EXPENDABLES 3 IS FUCKING GREAT. It doesn’t come without its flaws. But those flaws don’t even come close to ruining the film for me. I really think that if people pay to see it how it’s intended to be seen, on a giant fucking screen, with loud surround sound audio, in a theatre that reeks of stale popcorn and middle-aged men, then they’ll like it. Possibly even love it. Like I said for principal alone, I will be buying a ticket. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Well, unless of course, you lost your job, went through a divorce, your wife took half of what’s left and only have $356 to spend on a used shotgun to blow your head off because you’re dead inside.


  1. Great read.
    Can't wait to see the film!

  2. No fist fights from Jet Li? Arnold said in an interview Li disarmed a couple of guys very fast. Sounded like there was a fist fight going on. What happened to that scene? Was it cut?

  3. The fight scene with Jet Li was cut out of the film..