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Non-Review Review: The Expendables 3

There is something almost laudable about The Expendables as a movie franchise. Like science-fiction conventions do for other genre performers, The Expendables provides retirement planning and income for a bunch of performers who might otherwise have passed their sell-by date. It’s vaguely reassuring to know that sometimes life (and ass-kicking) begins at fifty, and The Expendables is endearingly sincere and upfront about this function – giving action stars who might seem over the hill one last go around.

That goodwill is stretched to breaking point with The Expendables 3. Nobody expects a particularly insightful or well-constructed script for a film like this, but the screenplay is a mess. Structurally speaking, The Expendables 3 feels like it is being held together by rubber bands – rubber bands that are being stretched to breaking point with the film’s two-hour runtime. There is a tighter and exciting movie to be found in The Expendables 3, but the movie awkwardly lumbers past earnest and into indulgent.

Going to town on this one..

Going to town on this one..

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Non-Review Review: The Expendables 2

There’s a very thin line between being a tribute to something and becoming an example of it. The Expendables sold itself as an affectionate homage to the cheesy eighties action movies that you’d find populating the godforsaken post-midnight hours on a local television station. They’re the kind of movies we remember with a sense of casual fondness – we don’t lie to ourselves that they were great, but focus on the cheesy one-liners and the ridiculous stunts and the scenery-chewing bad guys. Unfortunately, those movies generally weren’t as good as we remember them. We omit certain details – the terrible pseudo-political subtext shoehorned in, the cringe-worthy character work, the pacing issues, the performances that aren’t so bad they become good, but are instead so bad that they remain bad. The Expendables felt like a revived eighties late-night action movie, rather than a tribute to our cultural memory of one.

So I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed The Expendables 2, the sequel to the all-star actioner. It seems to have learned a lot from its predecessor and feels like exactly the sort of light and brainless entertainment we remember, rather than the mind-numbingly bad films we actually watched.

Eighties action movie reunion!

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