My father and I have a particular movie series that bond us together – The Expendables. Yes, I can guess what is flowing through your mind: mindless action, a bunch of old dudes pretending to be young, Sylvester Stallone’s awkward plastic surgery, Steroids instead of mint pastilles, explosions and “cool guys don’t look at explosions”-kind of things. And yes – there is a lot of all of that. But I love it!
When the first Expendable movie came out I was thoroughly surprised. Not really expecting much it felt like entering a time machine. It felt like going back 15-20 years and experience something that I had forgotten. The movie resembled those old action movies that dad used to let me watch when mom was not around. When I excitedly watched Terminator 2 and Die Hard eating popcorn and occasionally hearing my father asking me if I was scared or halfheartedly trying to get me to go to bed.
Sadly there are no movies like that being made today. All action movies seem to be either sci-fi “Tom Cruise” nonsense or comic book superhero-crap. The last one I am way too old for and the first one a bit too young (Cruise would probably disagree…). Here instead was once again a genuine classic – the pure, timeless action movie – like an old sexy car just cruising by on the highway.
So last time I was in Stockholm my father and I had a father-daughter bonding moment when we jumped into the car and drove of to watch the Expendables 3. There in the dark cinema we sat with too much candy and that excitement in your stomach when something you been waiting for is about to happen. We were not disappointed. The movie was enjoyment from moment one to the last second. At the end of the movie I sat there slightly nauseous at the amount of candy I had eaten just feeling like a million bucks.
Immediately as the movie starts it throws you into an action packed scene: Helicopter flights, cool guys jumping around insanely on a moving train, a rescue mission, explosions, shooting enemies left, right, up, down – everywhere, revenge and a man in a beard that looked awfully familiar. With a little bit of grooming Wesley Snipes emerged as one of many new “old” faces in the movie. But they are all there: Stallone, Schwarznegger – my favorite (mostly because he is the stiffest guy in Hollywood yet delivers his lack of acting skill with such an amazingly high level of self-distance) Willis, Gibson, Statham and the Swedish pride (because he is pretty solo on this) in action terms – Dolph Lundgren.
When it was Jet Li’s fabulous lines that totally stole all the humorous attention in the first movie, Dolph Lundgren’s romantic attempt to “die for some Chinese” in the second, it is the new “old” face Antonio Banderas who owns the audience’s smiles in this last part. In fact he steals the entire show completely. He is fabulous, the body language, the facial expressions, his accent carries the eccentric Spanish stereotype (that probably is not entirely politically correct) that he is capturing to perfection and the interactions – or rather monologues – between him and Stallone alone is worth watching the entire movie. It was a pleasure.
In this movie they also do something that could have gone very wrong. For the first time in the Expendables short history – newbies are welcomed. While this goes a bit against the “old dudes bring back the action movie”-concept, it really worked. True enough that the “kids” were a bit ridiculous but the “old dudes” are pretty ridiculous as well (in case of doubt: Schwarznegger: “I’m back“, Willis: “You’ve been back enough!“). This way some new technology and modern-“realism” got the chance to prove itself – not to mention the hilarious scene with Lundgren and “weather technology”.
The movie is exceptionally predictable. You know what is going to happen more or less all through the movie and the funny thing is – it does not make it any less awesome. This third part may well be the best of them.