Cheaper by the Dozen – ★½
The first of many things that strike you about The Expendables 3 is that it’s rated 12A. So while the body count is probably up there with the highest in cinema, you don’t see any grizzly kills, much blood or really foul language – which is what you would expect from a film featuring such heavy hitters as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Gibson, Snipes and Statham. Instead we have fast cuts and camera trickery ensuring we never get too close to the violence being doled out by a bunch of old-age pensioners.
The film opens with a daring train rescue of Wesley Snipes, a former expendable member who’s been locked up for the past eight years. When the gang then tries to take down a long thought dead target, Stonebanks (a.k.a Mel Gibson), Stallone realises the team ain’t what it used to be and goes in search of fresh recruits for another shot at Stonebanks. All this takes the insanely long running time of 2hrs and six minutes.
You must admire Stallone as he has given a chance for once great action heroes to shine again and reclaim some of the fame from their glory days. This is Snipes’ first role after being released from prison for tax evasion which is nodded to in the film. The script is full of knowing jokes and stolen taglines and the macho roaring seriously into peoples faces is ramped up to eleven. They should be more aware of their limitations as it’s impossible to take anyone seriously with audible laughs as the next in a series of cameos is trotted out in front of the screen. Yet they try to invoke some serious notes with talk of war crimes and The Hague.
Gibson steals the show as the evil unhinged bad guy and those who caught How I Spent My Summer Vacation (aka Get the Gringo) a couple of years back will know he still has the acting chops inspite of all his recent personal tribulations. The only scene that musters any sense of menace or tension is between Gibson and Stallone with Stallone merely trying to get the muscles in his face to work. The HD digital age has not been kind to these men with many looking like advanced animatronic puppets and could be a warning shot for the upcoming Star Wars sequel. There is a female in the film too an MMA star; Ronda Rousey who has about 3 lines of dialogue but to be fair most of the cast have three lines of dialogue.
While fans of the genre will get more from the in-jokes and have a fondness for familiar faces the film devolves into a mixture between Transformers-like fighting and the body count scene from Hot Shots Part Deux. Hopefully this is the last in the series, oh no wait Expendables 4 is confirmed with Pierce Brosnan supposedly signed up. That’s just swell.
Released across Ireland on Thursday August 14th 2014