Right, cards on the table – honest confession time. I quite liked The Expendables. There, I’ve said it.
It wasn’t what you’d call high-brow, sure. It barely made it to the dizzy heights of low-brow – but it did what it set out to do.
Old action heroes (and Jason Statham) chewed cigars, talked in cliches, blew stuff up and shot people. If you wanted anything else, you wanted a different film.
What I didn’t want from The Expendables, certainly, was a failed attempt at a proper plot, cod psychology and an attempt to ‘say something’.
No. Keep mouths shut and blow something else up. Then we can all go home happy.
Which is where the problems with The Expendables 3 start.
First, we have a twist. The old gang (Statham, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture) are being retired, and Sylvester Stallone is going to use a new, young, hip, street bunch of hired guns/fists/knives/computer skills to finish the job.
To be honest, he should have done that before filming began, because what is now abundantly clear is just how bad certain people’s acting has become.
That’s not to say the young gang (Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz) are Oscar-worthy, but they can at least all walk and talk at the same time (a skill that has clearly abandoned ol’ Arnie Schwarzenegger), smile without splitting the skin and burble on without the need for subtitles.
Then there’s the “plot”.
In essence it’s about hunting down Mel Gibson again, seeing as he’s not dead n that, but there’s the sub-plot of putting the new gang together. Oh, and the other sub-plot (freeing Snipes) that leads them to discover the main plot.
Still with me?
Putting the new gang together requires many a scene with Kelsey Grammer – the man is making some odd film choices – but his presence serves to throw a spotlight on just how bad Arnie and Harrison Ford have become.
Frankly, Ford, when you’re being acted off the screen by Stallone, I’d say it’s time to go home and let Calista Flockhart earn the money.
That’s not to say this film is totally without merit.
It starts off as you’d hope – minimal talkage, shooting and explosions abound – and overall the fight scenes and gun battles are well choreographed.
There are even some light moments of humour and Stallone’s line “I am The Hague” is simply wonderful in it’s weighty crassness.
But how the hell did director Patrick Hughes make this so steamingly dull?
The whole thing clocks in at over two hours, but it feels like four. I have a rule of never leaving a screening while the film was on, but happily went to the loo twice.
I didn’t need to, I was just bored. And the second time I wanted to see if I’d miss anything. I didn’t.
It frankly scares me that this man is being tasked with the Hollywood remake of The Raid – something that was already a bad idea.
OK, granted, you can argue that he was hampered by a cast so weighted down with egos it was never going to be easy to make a balanced film, but that was the gig.
Sometimes, a big dumb film full of explosions can be fun – like, say Die Hard 5.
And sometimes you can find yourself wondering if it’s possible to will on a heart attack just to alleviate the boredom.
The Expendables 3 is the closest I’ve come to wanting to find out.