Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Expendables 3: Too artsy and sensitive for its own good

I bet I'm the only reviewer to criticize Stallone's third installment in the let's-get-all-the-old-action-stars-together series for being too artsy and too sensitive, but I'm right.  This one was fun, but not as much fun as it should have been, precisely because it tried too hard to be something it's not.

Let's examine how these movies work.  You assemble a team of aging action stars.  (Add more in each new movie.)  You give them a super-villain who happens to work in places where you can film cheaply and blow up a lot of shit.  You toss in a whisper of a motivation--really, you don't need much--cue the action, pause for the occasional bit of bro-love and fist-bumping, and you blow the hell out of your cheap-ass location.  Eventually, Stallone fights the super-villain and kills the dude in some suitably horrific way. 

As the series goes on, you add some younger action heroes because, hey, someday these guys won't be able to take all the physical abuse that comes from starring in these films, but they'll still be able to produce and direct. 

Rinse and repeat.  Have a grand time. 

This movie went wrong each time it deviated from that formula. 

Sure, give us the bro-love, but don't for the sake of all that's holy make these men actually emote.  Watching Stallone try to show his deep feelings for his team made me reach for a tissue, my sadness was so great at the utter inability of his face to move. 

Yeah, we're fine with the young action stars.  Hell, I was downright excited to see the formidable Ronda Rousey in an action flick.  When the film took more than 30 seconds on the characterization of any of them, however, it went too far.  Ditto its sad attempts to have them act.  I adore Rousey as a fighter.  I would love to write her autobiography with her.  I can even believe she might one day be a good actor--but that will take some time and training.  For now, she has two looks:  the hot smile, and her most common expression, the I'm-so-angry-I-might-just-kill-you-for-fun glare.  (By the way, I'm a huge fan of that look; it's just not right for every non-smiling scene.) 

Having picked on Rousey, I now must say that I loved every action scene she was in.  Stallone definitely needs to bring her back in the inevitable Expendables 4

I could go on, but you get the point:  More action, less acting.  More blowing shit up, less characterization.  Start fast, and pick up speed.

Despite all of its flaws, I, of course, had a fine time watching the movie.  It just could have been so much more big, dumb fun than it was.

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