For this week’s review I had to choose between “The Giver,” yet another Young Adult novel brought to life, or “The Expendables III,” yet another Sylvester Stallone and his All Star Action Heroes tale of adventure.
As you can tell by the header, I went with the latter. I’m getting a little tired of movies based on YA books; I never get tired of Sylvester Stallone and company blowing up stuff.
Even if you’ve never seen an Expendables movie you probably know the drill: Stallone calls up a bunch of ’80s action stars — and Jason Statham — and they go somewhere and blow stuff up and put it on film, edit it down to a couple hours and watch the money roll in. It’s the “Cannonball Run” of blowing stuff up.
In addition to his usual cohorts — Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Arnold Schwarzenegger — Stallone has brought in heavyweights like Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford (Ford is substituting for Bruce Willis, who is “no longer in the picture.”).
And in what one assumes is an attempt to draw in ticket sales that don’t involve the senior citizen discount, Stallone has brought in a quartet of fresh faces — Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell and Ronda Rousey.
Oh, and Frasier’s in it. I don’t get the connection either.
The film opens with — you guessed it — an explosive scene in which Barnaby (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and crew stage a prison-train break. They rescue one of the original Expendables — Doctor Death (Snipes) — who’s gone a little batty after eight years in prison.
But a quick shave later and the doctor is ready to join the team as they fly off to thwart an arms deal. It all goes south (in explosive fashion, of course) when Barnaby discovers that the arms dealer is none other than his old partner and co-founder of The Expendables — Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson). Stonebanks had gone to the dark side years ago and Barnaby thought he was long dead — and that he had killed him.
Determined to capture Stonebanks but not at the cost of his friends’ lives, Barnaby disbands the team. He then hooks up with Frasier — I mean Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) — who sets him up with a new team of fresh faces (listed above).
Barnaby’s plan to capture Stonebanks falls apart (in explosive fashion) and soon the old guard is called in to rescue and then team up with the new kids in an all-out war with Stonebanks’ army.
I think I enjoyed “The Expendables III” more than the first two. I’m not saying the quality is any better, I just liked this mix of actors more and the way they played off each other. Snipes was a welcome addition although he doesn’t get much to do after his exciting introduction. Ford was the only newcomer who looked out of place, and it’s probably best they kept him in a helicopter instead of in the real action. Banderas was the unexpected comic relief as a motormouth mercenary who wants to fit in. I did miss Bruce Willis.
I also thought the action sequences were better, although the final shootout does go on too long. “Expendables III” is pretty much non-stop action, even more so than its predecessors. They’ve also downgraded the violence to PG-13 standards, which was probably a wise move. The graphic violence isn’t necessary for what is obviously a cartoon adventure.