<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Patrick Hughes. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell Jr, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kelsey Grammer
In the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger tells Sylvester Stallone it’s time for them to get out of the business. Arnie was always the smart one you know.
Arnie is 67 and Sly is 68 now. Boy, does that make me feel old. They were action stars when I was a young lad and film after film they entertained millions with wacky antics (Arnie’s film Twins with Danny DeVito) and raw action (Sly’s Rambo films). They could be funny and they could kick serious ass and we’d suspend all disbelief because this was Rocky and that was Terminator.
But after watching The Expendables 3 you come to realise that those films were more than just one man. Those were films that were tailor made for those men. Those were movies directed by great filmmakers like James Cameron (The Terminator, The Abyss, True Lies, Titanic) and John G Avildsen (Rocky, Save The Tiger, The Karate Kid). They gave these bodybuilders who had no acting education a chance to thrive and become legends. If only writer Sylvester Stallone had tapped into these talents, The Expendables 3 would be more than just screen time for some (very few) faces from our childhood movies.
The young brats with their iPhones in the audience for this film were busy chatting and taking selfies! There was an audience for sure but most were there for nostalgic reasons, out of a loyalty to their ‘heroes’ because the ones today are so pasty faced and nansy-pansy (Twilight characters come to mind) that we really can’t see them as heroes. Alas, even I felt distracted in the two hours of lazy plotline and dull script. The dialogue delivery from Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Dolph Lundgren and Arnie is so stilted it feels like their words are coming out of their contorted-with-age-mouths on walking sticks. How on earth the 72-year-old Harrison Ford will manage the new Star Wars films as Han Solo I cannot fathom.
Sly’s Barney Ross decides to tell his mates that they’re too old to do this now and they should start to live. This after one or two badly choreographed action sequences with bad CGI that lead to the downing of one of their colleagues. So Barney decides to put together a band of youngin’s to help him get the traitor Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) who is selling arms to the bad guys. The young ones are relative unknowns to most of us except for young Kellan Lutz (his failed performance in The Legend of Hercules probably made him easier to get for this film).
Slurred speech and half-hearted attempts at humour ensue with long bits of nothing happening. It’s as if they assumed we’d be entertained just watching the saggy faces of these once great actors. It ain’t enough and you won’t be back.
The only saving graces of the film are Mel Gibson who proves he is still a great actor (irrespective of what we may think of him as a person) and Antonio Banderas who brings much needed vitality to this geriatric ensemble. Kelsey Grammer plays Barney’s friend who helps him pull together the new young team and he does a good job because we know he’s a consummate actor who needs to be in films far better than Transformers Age of Extinction and this one.
We all like nostalgia but there is something to be said about going out with class and dignity. My dear old childhood heroes, you must take that bow and leave us with the movies that we’ll buy on DVD and cherish. Because we’ll be watching your films (the old ones, that is) forever and not Kellan Lutz’s films (young or old). That is your legacy, not this.