Trademark schticks, tough-guy one-liners (many of them from the Sly one), stunt action that has that old reprobate action double feel (with minimal new special effects technology, atypical in this day and age) – dust off the critical term “slam-bang” to describe good old-fashioned military mayhem from a cast of “old” movie warriors (Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Antonio Banderas and Sylvester Stallone himself), “new” action heroes (Jason Statham, Terry Crews and Randy Couture), not-so-old stars (Wesley Snipes and Jet Li), Expendabelles (Kelsey Grammer and Ronda Rousey) as well as good action character actors.
While critics with the delicate sensitivity of lilies of the valley might cringe at the “geriatric” assembly reprising the roaring age of “dinosaur” super-action flicks, The Expendables III looks and feels like a really fun time for a cast of Olympus-style heroes who have already done their major portions of high deeds of adventure – and coming back one more time with lackadaisical and practised expertise to remind all and sundry that they still have some good old action vibes left to hold their own against sci-fi based action thrillers whose souls are created out of special effects, not from a good, believable plotline. The theme from The Bridge Over the River Kwai is whistled tongue-in-cheek, as if the entire team (production staff, directors, writers and actors) decided to put it on after they laughed themselves silly over a double shot of whiskey in a bar at all the predictable criticism by critics who will have forgotten good war stories because they weren’t really copacetic about it in the first place. War stories based on what really happened, told with grit, and leavened with the terse, jaw-clenched wisdom developed by Stallone over the course of 80s hits that told the visceral drama of guts and grit triumphing in the arena of violence.
Patrick Hughes directs this film, and it premiered in London on 4 August of this year. Avi Lerner, Kevin King-Templeton, Danny Lerner, Les Weldon, and John Thompson are the team of producers. The Expendables III is based on a screenplay by Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt and Stallone – the original story was written by Stallone. Even the directors, producers and writers sound like a tough-guy team, and we can’t truly blame Rotten Tomato for not “liking” the movie and obviously hiding some fear of the real men that populate the movie and who lend it a distinctive classic flavour for action buffs.
The Expendables, a mercenary unit made up of the best of the best specialists in the field, are now split between the unit’s co-founders: Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross) and Mel Gibson (Conrad Stonebanks). Ross still leads the core of the team, while Stonebanks is psychotically determined to destroy it. Ross put Stonebanks to death when he became a ruthless arms dealer, but he survived it without Ross knowing. This is not schlocky action stuff, it is real dramatic violence from confirmed talents in the field. (Even if sensitive critics don’t really want to see how it is so.) And Stallone has benefitted from the years meanwhile by divesting himself of the maudliness of the Rocky series and the cult-of-personality stuff in the Cobra and Rambo series – howsoever they worked well in their era. The Expendables III, like the second instalment, has outstanding action with a supporting plot that is lean and mean. For those who always wanted to see all of the 80’s super-action stars (Schwarzenneger, Ford, Gibson and Stallone) come together on screen, this is one movie that shouldn’t be missed. For those who want something more explosive than cooking popcorn, they will find all that they would want and more in this retro-action film that no one except Stallone could have written.