It’s easy to love and admire what Sylvester Stallone and company are doing with the yearly dose of throwback action. These old school remedies are exactly what movie fans need in the late hot summer dry air of summer entertainment because they remind you how it was done before the bullshit started in Hollywood.
Ronda Rousey tells Stallone in the film, “That plan would work if it was 1985,” and while the wink of the eye humor is perfectly placed, the line has deeper meaning. Sly isn’t letting the old days die and these Expendables films keep getting better and better. Appreciating these films means one must go into the film without preconceived notions that extend past guilty pleasure fun. I grew up on these guys kicking ass and taking names, so I am an easy target. No offense to the weird mind game glee of Luc Besson’s LUCY or The Rock in HERCULES, but Expendables 3 is the kind of dose this film addict requires.
Selling this flick is like telling you to salivate over a cheeseburger that you know is money every time you order it. In one film, all these famous characters collide. Rocky/Rambo, The Terminator, Ivan Drago, Indiana Jones, Martin Riggs/Mad Max, Blade, and The Transporter. All of them.One film. The attraction is irresistible.
For the first time, Stallone and the boys have a real bad guy with some story and teeth behind him. Mel Gibson plays an old member of the gang who has taken a few steps over into the dark side and now squares off with Sly, Arnold, Statham, Couture, and the rest of the dirty bruisers. Add in UFC lady Rousey, the 72 year old still able Ford, Kelsey Grammar, and Antonio Banderas and the roster is overloaded with favorites.
The best part of these films is the actors love to make inside jokes and be self-deprecating. A knock on Jet Li’s height. Snipes makes a funny remark about getting caught for tax evasion(what really got him in real life). Arnold screams, “Get to the Chopper!” There is the comment about 1985, back when Arnold and Sly were shredding cinemas with witty bullets.
The story is penned by Sly and the director is Patrick Hughes, a newcomer, but the real thrills come from the loose cast members. Sly can play the brave and tough as nails Barney Ross in his sleep but it’s refreshing to see Gibson back on the big screen in a big budget film. His off screen personality seems to have gotten him locked out of big films and that’s a shame because there used to be a time where studios didn’t care about these kind of antics. Gibson has the devilish look in his eyes here and a scene between him and Sly on a plane absolutely kills. Ford hasn’t had this much fun in decades. Arnold is keen on laying on the one liners and Banderas provides the comic relief. Snipes also gets in on the action and he’s another lost soul who has come home to the island of misfit toys to play.
Here’s the wondrous part of the film. If you combine the ages of Stallone, Arnold, Gibson and Ford, the numbers comes out to 267 years. Yet, watching them on screen here doing their thing, they don’t look like they have missed a single beat.
Watching this film and all of these mega action studs interact, one must pinch their arm from time to time. When I was a kid, all I wanted was to see Sly and Arnold combine forces in the same film. Now, I have gotten three films and they all provide the same thrill. Easy going action bliss. Don’t dare use your brain in this exercise. It won’t respond because the eyes are having too much fun. They can keep making these movies every year, until Sly is using a Professor X style wheelchair to shoot his bazooka. They are a whole lot of fun and reminders of a time when movies weren’t over complicated controversial earthquakes waiting to happen. Sly and company are rebelling against old age and the dying of the light. I will be there to hold the candle every single year.
Expendables 3 is pure action greatness. Go eat it up this weekend.