Thursday, 14 August 2014



The Hollywood Over The Hills.

126 Minutes. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Dolph Ludgren, Kelsey Grammar, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford & Arnold Schwarzenegger. Director: Patrick Hughes.

Man I'm getting old! I remember when the first 'Expendables' classic mash-up of Hollywood hard-men came out in what seems like yesteryear. Now there's a trilogy! Speaking of things coming in threes, this writers about to hit 30 and these decades older action heroes are bypassing me...heart pun intended. Following the sequel smash Sly Stallone is back with director Patrick Hughes for 'The Expendables 3'. Between his 'Bullet To The Head', 'Escape Plan' and all the 'Rambo' and 'Rocky' reduxes, Sylvester at sixty is dancing and no pussycat, writing and showing the age old proof that he can still make films like he used to. All our fondly nostalgic action flicks from the 80's and 90's that pull all sorts of punches, loaded with billions of bullets in the chamber and countless classic one-liners in the clip. This is the same 'Cobra' who in the face of a threatened mall explosion simply replied,"that's O.K.. I don't shop here"! Classic! Stallone isn't trying to be something he's not, or reaching for Oscar territory in his more seasoned years. It's popping corn for the mind so leave your brain with the usher. He's just trying and working to be the best at what he's good at with a little bit more heart and humour and in that he's giving us some of his best films in years...if not ever Ironically this franchise of quote en quote "past it" all-stars is quickly becoming his most famous franchise. Plus so what if that thing he's good at just happens to be kicking peoples ass. So what if sometimes we need subtitles to go with that. Read all about it because you're going to want to quote this guy pun for pun. Winning the arms race you now have a trilogy that will make for the perfect movie marathon with your boys and beer. This third act actually proves that real last action heroes don't come a dime a dozen. As good as the kids and guys like The Rock and Vin Diesel are they don't come a ricocheted bullet close to this legends lights, camera action legacy. If you don't believe me...just ask his friends.

There's a lot of them! The Terminator, Indiana Jones, Mad Max, The Transporter, the Universal Soldier, Passenger 57, Zorro, a kung fu legend, a mixed martial arts one, an NFL player with Old Spice in his veins and even Dr. Frasier Crane (where's Niles? Now THAT would be hilarious) all join Rambo! Pass the botox and the heart pills. I guess the only ones really 'Expendable' are past franchise faces Mickey Rourke, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damne and Bruce Willis (the way they write the guy that argued over a million that to him is spare change is priceless). They join rumoured Clint Eastwood, Nicholas Cage and Jackie Chan in disappointing M.I.A. status. Hey, I could watch an 'Expendables 4', so long as a touring Steven Segal opens up that acoustic guitar case and reveal some really offensive weapons 'Desperado' style...and as for the 'Puss N Boots' we'll get to the best thing about this movie in a whisker! I think it's time to line-up the usual suspects first and we aren't talking about Benicio Del Torro in 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', another big assembling that shows like 'Sin City' that this Summer blockbuster season of 'Godzilla's' and 'Apes' that Marvel started is not over yet. Lighting a victory cigar on his power-player proud poster, Sly is truly the man in this Expendable ensemble. Gunning and grunting his way to his best action set-pieces and comedy-liners in years....even if they didn't take "the stairs" in the end. Flying round off oil and water, blood and aviation fuel, this guy is the ignited kerosene catalyst of this petroleum pictures as his trademark plane rumbles through the sky in the same vocal tones as its pilot. With the early Christmas by his cock-pit side in the Jason Statham bromance we have the dynamic duo that crosses oceans and timelines. Still what's Rocky without one of his greatest adversaries, come friends by his side in Dolph Lundgren? He mounts up with the muscle Randy Couture and mouth (plus even more muscle...and a gun that really talks) of Terry Crews as the regulars make a welcome return to this arsenal of trailers with built in gyms like legend Jet Li...and then of course there's the man who is always back. Sly without Arnie is like Springsteen without Dylan, the Lakers without the Celtics...Batman without Superman, or D.C. without Marvel. Following their prison break the dynamite double act add more shells and syllables to their ode to action heroism. With some obvious puns and one that cleverly may go over all our heads (well played Sir Sly), how about that for a total recall?

These heavy heroes for hire that don't hit like vegetarians have some new recruits too. The fresh faces of Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell and Victor Ortiz who give us what you could call 'The Expendables Juniors', as these young kids are a better idea than the 'Female Expendables'...not to be sexist but whose going to join Sigourney in Hollywood? Technologically advanced in this day and age and high kicking like these old hands wished their replaced hips could, its a natural progression but does go to prove one thing, the real Expendables cant be replaced. They can't be beat, just joined and we sure hope Segal can hear that behind all that ponytail. Even Seattle's favourite radio psychiatrist who used to frequent bars in Boston is here to more cheers. Grizzled only by stubble with words as his weapons, Kelsey Grammer is on fire as a hot shot recruiter, even if you did want to see him tote guns like you wanted to see him as a 'Transfomer' in the 'kill this franchise' now 'Age Of Extinction'. Even the 'Fugitive' talent of legend Harrison Ford is onboard and any critic who thinks Sly had to put a gun to his head, or a pen to an even bigger cheque to get him here may want to check themselves or the skies. As getting into a chopper with the man who took down the 'Predator', it looks like Han Solo hasn't had this much fun since he flew around in the Millennium Falcon. Still it's some of the bigger guns that bang more for Sly's buck. The 'Lethal Weapon' of this piece is Mel Gibson's bad guy. From some classic, crazy charisma straight from the 90's playbook of the bad guys he used to book with Danny (if only he wasn't too old for this s###), to his hallmark tough guy talk even being an upgrade from Van Damme's classic 'Jean Villain' from the last stand. The last of the dog tags go to the best however. It literally looks like these guys broke Wesley Snipes out of prison for the first off the rails scene and as this out of jail actor sharpens his skill-set out of the slammer, 'Blade' looks to be even handier with one than Statham's Christmases' gut tidings. Still there's crazy and then there's Banderas as Antonio goes all bananas and hams it up for what has to be his craziest and funnest performance. There's some heart and soul in here too with a man that plays up being desperado to join Stallone's TNT team. As he kills about four guys in one ACHME burst and screams, "this is the best day of my life", he may not be lying as he makes his mark, ripping and roaring through like a big 'Z'. This is the point too in this nostalgic homage that isn't afraid to not take itself took seriously but is still true to its genres type with the new (old) recruits adding to its legend! They never made films like this anymore until a couple of old dogs teached us some new tricks in making popcorn action movies taste better. Sure the plot could be wrote on the back of a napkin (then again some of the worlds best songs were) in Stallone's favourite 'Rusty' bar, but you could never write a better cast of favourites than this. When it comes to taking us back to the good old days Mr. Expendable spares no expense. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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