(it) wrote: First, I'll say that I had no illusions about THE EXPENDABLES 3 being a "good" movie, per se. Basically, it (and its two predecessors) amounts to a bunch of aging action stars coming together to trade quips, kick some butt and relive their glory days. And on that level alone, plus just having all of them in the same movie together, is probably enough to satisfy most action movie fans. The problem is that the execution of this (admittedly) cool concept hasn't really been that good from the get-go. Instead of delivering on the old-school action they promised, they've given us more of the shaky, hand-held camerawork typical of action films these days, along with a heavy dose of decent to pretty bad CGI. And with this third installment, toned down somewhat to appeal to a younger demographic (?!), most of what we get is a bunch of bloodless gun battles and little hand-to-hand combat. That being said, the cast they assembled this time around is probably enough for most.The "plot" this time involves the Expendables going after a person from their past who was long-thought dead. Barney also starts to have regrets about putting his friends in harm's way, and so recruits a younger team to fulfill their latest mission. However, when they get captured Barney has to reunite his old team to go rescue them. Despite the obvious desire of fans to just have fun with their favorite action stars for a couple of hours, Stallone (a co-writer on all three) still stuck in an emotional hook to cover his bases, I guess. In the first one, he goes back to save a woman. In the second one, he avenges a team member's death. In this one, which seems to be reaching for the fences a little bit, he tries to show the importance of friends and family. However, as with the previous two, it comes off as undercooked at best.As far as action is concerned, there were two really good set-pieces that are enough to give this film a recommendation. The first is the opening prison-break sequence where they rescue Wesley Snipes out of a moving train. This is as close as they get to recapturing the fun of the previous two installments. The other is the last sequence, which goes on for about 20-25 minutes, and is an orgy of frenetic gunplay and MMA-style beatdowns. Outside of those two sequences, though, the movie really drags in the middle section as the plot slows down long enough for Barney to get a conscience, and then for a montage of recruiting his new, younger team.On the acting front, though, it's even more of a mixed bag. The core team we've come to know and love is good as usual, delivering what we've come to expect. The new additions, however, aren't as great across the board. The real problem is the new recruits. Two of them aren't even actors (Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz), and of the two that are (Glen Powell and Kellan Lutz), Lutz has the biggest cred coming off of the Twilight franchise. It's pretty sad when you think about it, and none of them can act to save their lives. On the bright side, there is Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks, a sneering villain who gets to chew the scenery when he's onscreen, Antonio Banderas as Galgo, a hyper-enthusiastic motormouth assassin who joins up with the Expendables. Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes were also nice to see, but like most of the gigantic cast, they were woefully underused and barely register.From a technical standpoint, the film is decent but the shooting style tends to the currently in-vogue style of filming action in a shaky, handheld style with rapid edits and quick cuts (a necessity due to the PG-13 rating, although it didn't seem as bad in this unrated version). I don't know why they went with Patrick Hughes to direct this, as he can't shoot action that well, but for what it's worth the film was watchable (unlike TAKEN 3 earlier this year). Also, since this is an unrated/extended version you might wonder what was different from the theatrical version. Honestly, I couldn't tell that much other than that some of the banter seemed a little longer in places and there were a couple more f-words than I remember hearing before. So, basically there weren't any substantial changes from what was released in theaters.Overall, when all is said and done, if you like the previous two Expendables movies you'll probably like this one. For everyone else, though, if you have a hankering for some action your best bet is just to go back and watch the movies that made these stars famous in the first place.
(gb) wrote: More noir-ish than noir, a solid psychological drama but one that lacks tension. The shining star of this movie is Jose Ferrer, who pulls off devious and charming in a captivating manner reminiscent of Alan Rickman. Gene Tierney and Richard Conte just seem to be going through the motions by comparison. The film also deals with a lot of pop psychiatrics, including hypnosis... right behind amnesia in terms of hokey plot devices. The cinematography is dull and the score is perfunctory. A watchable story that needs a whole lot more spark to it.