“Say that again, and I’ll shoot ya!”
Now that we have the entire plot of The Expendables 3 out of the way, I have a message for the 2 million naughty people who have already downloaded this film illegally following an online leak.
Are you really going to deny yourself the big-screen pleasure of seeing the world’s finest stunt men filling in for Hollywood’s oldest action studs?
Or the rare sight of a larger-than-life Sylvester Stallone almost crying? The camera zooms into the big lug’s eyeballs following an unhappy turn of events, and it looks like the tears are about to tumble.
Turns out it’s just standard Stallone staredown, brought on but what seems like a combination of severe constipation and straining to read an eye chart.
At least Sly has something to do, unlike most of his cronies in this increasingly toothless franchise, which sheds meaning even as it adds more steroidal muscle. Unlike the first two Expendables, this one has been cut for the bootless PG-13 U.S. rating (PG in Ontario) instead of the more appropriate “R.”
A franchise that was once mildly enjoyable for the novelty of bringing together aging but still popular action heroes — guys like Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Jet Li — has turned into a cattle drive of subprime beef, with more grunts and stares than dialogue. This is what an earthbound Guardians of the Galaxy would be like if every character was Groot, the tree guy.
The Expendables 3 also brings on Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer and Antonio Banderas, the latter two for comic relief.
But wait, there’s more! Team leader Stallone’s Barney Ross has finally realized nothing lasts forever, not even if you have a great pharmacist and plastic surgeon, and he needs to recruit some less-disposable younger Expendables.
Enter Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, boxer Victor Ortiz and mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey, damned millennial punks who put too much faith in gadgets and who think Neil Young’s “Old Man” is for anybody born before 1980.
The Expendables has reached the point of franchise fatigue we saw in Star Trek: Generations, where the original Enterprise crew passed the baton to fresher meat. The difference here is that Stallone may not be completely done with the series, for which he also claims a co-writing credit and no small amount of self-aggrandizing.
The movie is almost half over by the time Aussie director Patrick Hughes and his cabal of screenwriters finally stop introducing everybody and get down to some family-friendly butt-kicking.
By then the real star of this picture has emerged: it’s Mel Gibson, of all people, who isn’t going to blow his second chance of reviving the film career his big mouth almost destroyed.
He’s a blast as Stonebanks, a former good guy who turned dark and vengeful when he realized how much fun guys like Darth Vader were having. He collects art and weapons and shoots people, sometimes all at once and always for kicks. Stonebanks is a Bond villain in all but name.
Gibson torches the screen whenever he’s on it, giving The Expendables3 whatever heat it manages to generate.
He’s a handy guy to have amid the incomprehensible action scenes, especially when slugging shifts to some generic Middle East locale that I think is called Idonunnastan or Idongivadamn, involving a lot of shooting and punching and a motorcycle stunt team that seems to have strayed from a circus.
Whatev, as those millennials would say. But The Expendables have become all too dispensable, and that’s the truth, Groot.