I think this young fella’s expression reflected my own during the second half of this film.
Sylvester Stallone stars in and co-writes the third installment of The Expendables franchise. The film is directed by Patrick Hughes who doesn’t have much of a track record in film and more worryingly has been named as the director of the North American remake of The Raid.
The outline of the plot is that Barney Ross (Stallone) has a run in with one of the founder members of The Expendables, the psychotic Stonebanks played by Mel Gibson, during what was supposed to be a routine mission. The encounter leads Barney to reconsider how dangerous this life is and in his attempt to capture Stonebanks on behalf of the CIA decides to recruit a new young band of tough guys (and gal).
The film features a who’s who of new and old action stars with newcomers Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Kelsey Grammer (who I understand was doing a role originally intended for Nicolas Cage). I was a big fan of the likes of Lethal Weapon, Predator, Commando, Rocky, Rambo, Terminator, True Lies, Demolition Man and so on. In many ways this is a franchise catering for my hankering for a little nostalgia.
Unfortunately it is a massive let down for fans like me. What I remember are great one liners, zippy action and just the right amount of needless violence. This film has none of those things. Things got off to a promising start as we are introduced to the Snipes character who threatens to deliver a quirky interesting character but is soon relegated to the background so as not to threaten Stallone’s primacy in affairs.
I think that is one of the two main reasons why this film fails. It’s a vanity project for its leading man and truth be told I have no idea what the names of most of the characters are, in part because there so many of them there is no time to develop any empathy with them. The other major problem is, and it happens to us all, is that these guys are just over the hill. They can’t do it any more. What little elasticity there was in Stallone’s face has disappeared altogether and there are whole scenes where he looks blankly at his fellow actors.
My favourite was always Arnie but he has become really stiff now in his delivery and how he carries himself. He’s kidding no-one with his dyed hair. I must make special mention for what I consider to be the worst acting performance of 2014 so far and that that accolade goes to Antonio Banderas whose character is supposed to provide some light relief. He is truly ghastly and I had my head in my hands. There is a moment in the film following one of many unfunny monologues were the Stallone character utters the word “wow” and I thought ‘I’m right with you kid’. To be fair to Banderas he didn’t write the words so equal criticism must be given to the lunatics behind the screenplay.
Gibson and Grammer give the best performances but nothing can save this film. The producers have claimed that the pirate copy of the film leaking onto the Internet hurt its performance at the box office. No, sorry, it just stinks.