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Film Review: The Expendables 3

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The crew of elderly action men – Stallone, Arnie, Lundgren, Statham and Snipes (the latter two slightly less elderly) – are back for a third outing. They fight, they bicker, they get into all kinds of trouble. This is Last of the Summer Wine re-imagined by Michael Bay. But in truth, it’s a lot better put together than any Bay fodder we’ve had for the last few years, and although the humour lacks the cosy charm of that aforementioned sitcom, it is still endearing enough to be funny in an undemanding kind of way.

It’s quite strange to think the first film in the series achieved an uncut 18 rating from the BBFC for a scene showing ‘the hero sadistically twisting a knife into a villain's neck’. The second instalment got a 15 and now here we are with part three, with a very young-teen-friendly 12A. No gore, no nastiness, no sadism. Just fast, fun action, frequently terrifically executed with superb special effects. It does make you wonder, however, if the series will keep going down all the way to a U rating for Part 5. It could be co-produced by Nickelodeon and co-star Ashley Tisdale. There’s money in this.

The plot concerns Stallone switching to another team made up of younger, more agile heroes, though of course the old gang have to come back together at some point. The big villain is played enigmatically by Mel Gibson. One can’t help but feel like this is supposed to be a form of rehabilitation for the troubled star. Though some may not find it easy watching someone who has said such loathsome things in reality sliding comfortably back into the mainstream, they can at least find solace in the fact that he has been cast as an evil, cruel piece of work.

Some of the long-running jokes do get a bit tiresome, and one does wonder how long this series really can continue considering how hold some of them are now looking (Harrison Ford, as A Major Important Secret Agent Man appears a bit uncomfortable a lot of the time). However, while they are still doing what they are doing, we should be pleased they are still doing it so well.

The Expendables 3 (2014), directed by Patrick Hughes, is released in cinemas in the UK by Lionsgate, Certificate 12A.





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