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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Movie review: Mel Gibson is the saving grace of otherwise disappointing Expendables 3

Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 21, 2014
First Published: 11:35 IST(21/8/2014) | Last Updated: 16:54 IST(23/8/2014)

Film: The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Antonio Banderas, Terry Crews, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Rating: 1.5

We have all known what The Expendables stands for in Hollywood – the geriatric action stars' retirement policy. The recipe for cooking up an Expendables 'extravaganza' (bit of a hyperbole here) is simple – crowd up your canvas with as many over-the-hill action biggies that you can get, put them in bombed-out peripheries of civilisation, pack it up with so much firepower that the audience's ears start tingling and then just sit back and relax.

Also read: After leak, Expendables 3 takes errant websites to court

Aussie director Patrick Hughes believes if two films did decently well with that formula, why tinker with it now. So, he has Syl Stallone, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Antonio Banderas, Terry Crews, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger making up the oldie brigade.



But then, is there any harm in bringing in some young faces? So, he hires Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz and a female Expendable Ronda Rousey.

Also read: Expendables 3 trailer is high on thrill

Now, about the firepower: he has knives, grenades, machine guns, tanks, helicopters, planes, handguns and even a train blowing up. Phew, with so many actors doing their bit and armaments blowing up every minute, is it a surprise that they forgot to add a story, a decent screenplay or even some smart dialogues?

In terms of story, this is what the film offers: we see an action-packed beginning as a motley group of Expendables headed by Barney (Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Statham) go about retrieving former colleague Doc Death (Wesley Snipes) from a prison. 

The scene involves a chopper, a train that eventually blows up and some very startled prison guards.

The scene then shifts to Somalia where Expendables are supposed to take out an arms dealer. The scene goes wrong and the dealer turns out to be an Expendable-gone-rogue Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson).

To take out Stonebanks, Barney is instructed by his CIA pointsperson (Ford) to retire his old team and get in some fresh blood. With the four young Expendables in tow, Barney heads to Bucharest. In between fighting, these young whippersnappers also kid Barney about his methods (So your plan is to just slam down a door and start spraying bullets?)

Instead of capturing Stonebanks and delivering him at The Hague where he can be tried for his crimes, Barney barely escapes with his life and the young ones are captured. Now everyone (old and new) has to come together to fight off an entire army in a country whose name ends with 'istan'.

While the rest of the cast seems to be regurgitating their old mannerisms and tics, it is Gibson and Banderas who keep you captivated. Banderas as a motormouth mercenary who talks more than he kills is good for a few laughs.

The film, however, belongs to Gibson. As the rogue arms dealer who eyes up women and buys abstract art in his spare time, he is great fun. He refers to his old comrades as 'Deleteables' and when the army he practically owns, fails to kill them, his comeback is, "How hard can it be to kill 10 men? You can't even wound a couple?"

We share his consternation. Why would you name a film The Expendables and then not kill a single one of them?

Watch this one if you are a true blue fan of '80s action thrillers who would like one more walk down the nostalgia lane with 'old' heroes. For the rest of us, it is time to dust out those old CDs and watch a re-run of their truly good films.

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