Kick the tires and lite up the fires!

Kick the tires and lite up the fires!

A lot of people seemed surprised that the third Expendables movie underperformed at the box office. After watching the film, I wasn’t among them. Sure, I liked some of the action – that opening scene with Wesley Snipes was great, new cast members Antonio Bandaras and Ronda Rousey shine during the film and how can you NOT dig the Desperado-like shootout and the ju-jistu team up at the end? Mel Gibson also has some nice lines here, and overall, the film isn’t bad. Yet, the film didn’t strike a nerve with audiences, Some point to the lack of an R rating, others the leaked HD copy and some the marketing. Which to believe?

I’ll telkl you what I believe. Not one of them – except a little bit with marketing, but not much. Jet Li’s role was shortened in the previous film. This time around, it’s a cameo shooting off a machine gun from a gunship. No wushu moves, no scene like Expendables 2 even. So what’s that got to do with Marketing? Everything. Jet Li got his character poster. Yet, even character actor Robert Davi has more screen time than Jet Li. In fact, let’s call it like it is – there is that great (re)introduction of Wesley Snipes at the start of the film. “The Doctor” When the team runs into a former teammate Stonebanks (played by Gibson) who is now a gun smuggler, Terry Crews’ character Caesar is severely wounded. The team is disgraced enough where Stallone’s Ross decides to disassemble the team and look for younger, fresh recruits along with Bonaparte, an ex- mercenary played by Kelsey Grammar.

And there’s your problem where the movie failed, right there. Were you looking at your watch? The film’s momentum becomes a turtle race. It just dies as we are ‘introduced’ to the new team members. Only two are memorable – Bandaras does a Zorro-like move with hypoer energy and makes a punchline. Rousey’s into is cliched (“look!the bouncer is a girl”) but charmingly good. and Yes, Grammar’s character would have been better played by Fred Willamson or Burt Reynolds, but that’s not the problem here.

Here’s a hint: remember those character posters? Remember that kick-ass opening scene? Guess who’s not around for a good hour of the movie? Let me guess- could it be half the characters the audience has grown to like and gotten used to for two films in now? Are we concerned about the well being of Hale Caesar? Aside from Rousey and Bandaras, was there anything memorable about the other recruit scenes? Dead weight scenes, all of them, and to add insult to injury. all the new young team is captured by Stonebanks.
By the way, what exactly is the underlying premise of The Expendables idea again? A film composed of older action stars for the most part, right? Right! So when the actors/characters an audience has come to see has been sidelined at Jet Li gets only a minute firing a gun? Mel Gibson had great lines, but the previous film’s Jean Cluade Van Damme was more of an exciting fight at the end. Stonebanks dies rather dumb for such an intelligent foe and with less fanfare. The team fights endless masked thugs, it’s hard to track who is doing what….yes, this isn’t a bad film but the gas is out of the tank.

You can check the brain at the door if you want to, but who and what did you want to see? Other than that, Sly went up against a talking gun toting raccoon and a ninja turtle so it may have just been bad luck. Or was it?

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