Review: THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review: THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014)

1.5 stars
1.5 stars
For all the action, explosion and attitude, THE EXPENDABLES 3 is nothing more than a limp effort that barely raises a pulse.


Prior to the general release of THE EXPENDABLES 3 on August 14 in the Malaysian cinemas, an unexpected DVD-quality copy has already been leaked online just over two weeks ago, which more or less will hurt its box office potential. It's another sad case of leak that reminded me of X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE back in 2009 when a rough cut of the movie was released online. Whatever it is, I was more concerned with the studio's decision to trim the third movie into a shocking PG-13 rating for the first time ever in the otherwise R-rated franchise. Not surprisingly, such drastic move proves to be a huge mistake. And not to mention also, the overall effort that has been done in THE EXPENDABLES 3. After watching the movie, I couldn't imagine how bad it actually turned out to be. While the first two EXPENDABLES at least embraces its B-movie cheesiness, this one hits an all-time low in the franchise. 

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

In this third movie, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) leads his Expendables mercenary team on a mission to break a former Expendable member Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes) out of the heavily-guarded military prison. Soon after the successful breakout, the team is assigned on a following mission to take down a notorious warlord, which happens to be a former Expendables co-founder-turned-enemy Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). The mission goes awry, with one of their members, Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) ends up badly injured. Barney decides to disband the old team, which includes his second-in-command knife expert Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), sniper Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and  demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), for the sake of their safety and goes on recruiting a new and younger team. With the help of Barney's friend Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), Barney picks four new Expendables members -- ex-Navy SEAL John Smilee (Kellan Lutz), nightclub bouncer Luna (Ronda Rousey), hacker Thorn (Glen Powell) and sharpshooter Mars (Victor Ortiz) -- and work together to capture Stonebanks.
  
THE GOOD STUFF
 
As the third movie's main villain, Mel Gibson delivers an effective performance as Conrad Stonebanks. Best of all, he is at least a mile better than the disappointingly bad-guy turn by Jean-Claude Van Damme in THE EXPENDABLES 2.

In a brief scene that involves Wesley Snipes' character, I kinda like how he jokes about his imprisonment for tax evasion.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
There are plenty of big action moments here, but none of them has that visceral impact to engage me at all.

THE BAD STUFF
  
Australian director Patrick Hughes, whose feature debut was the 2010's neo-noir western RED HILL, is fortunate enough to get a big Hollywood break working in THE EXPENDABLES 3. But instead of a would-be fresh energy injected into the franchise, Hughes' direction comes across as flat-footed. The story, which credited to Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, is reeked of poor writings all over the place. The worst of all of course, comes from the uninspired middle section involving Barney and his brand-new young crew. Problem is, the idea of abandoning the old crew (e.g. Statham and among others) in favour for a fresh young cast drags the movie a lot to the point of pretension. Even the story does re-introduce the old crew back just in time for the finale, it's all too late and too little.

Thanks to the lame PG-13 rating, most of the action here are shockingly toothless. And worst, there are almost devoid of creativity. Even the supposedly action-packed epic finale at the abandoned building feels strangely lacklustre and monotonous. For instance, the final fight between Stallone and Gibson is disappointingly brief that immediately reminds me of the equally hopeless Stallone vs. Van Damme fight scene in THE EXPENDABLES 2.

Most of the casts here, both old and new, are terribly wasted. Jason Statham hardly impresses this time around, while Terry Crews is sadly neglected into a thankless cameo appearance. The addition of Wesley Snipes into the franchise, which reunites with Stallone after 1993's DEMOLITION MAN, is supposed to be fun but his character doesn't engage one bit. For an actor who used to be popular for his martial arts skill, it's a shame that he is so underutilized here as if the director doesn't know what to do with him. Antonio Banderas, who also used to collaborate with Stallone before in 1995's ASSASSINS, is downright irritating as the movie's comic relief who tries so hard to be funny but fails miserably. Harrison Ford, who replaced Bruce Willis from the first two movies, simply shows up to collect easy paycheck without putting considerable effort to make his cameo appearance at least worthwhile. Dolph Lundgren continues to disappoint further since THE EXPENDABLES 2 with his barely-there appearance; Jet Li is reduced into a useless cameo role that doesn't get to engage in a single fight at all other than shooting around; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who at least gets to show off some noteworthy moments with his expanded role in THE EXPENDABLES 2, is now an ineffective cameo that even the way he parodies his infamous "Get to the chopper!" line from 1987's PREDATOR feels pathetic.

Meanwhile, the younger casts here are all forgettable and even the inclusion of UFC Women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is underutilized where she doesn't get to strut her stuff (mixed martial arts skill, that is) to justify her screen time worthy enough.

FINAL WORDS

Easily the worst movie in the franchise, THE EXPENDABLES 3 has obviously overstayed its welcome and seriously in need for creative juice if there's ever a fourth movie in the future.

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