The Expendables 3

August 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford
Directed by: Patrick Hughes (“Red Hill”)
Written by: Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky”) and Creighton Rothenberger (“Olympus Has Fallen”) and Katrin Benedikt (“Olympus Has Fallen”)

The movies in “The Expendables” series should be tons more fun than they actually are. They should be winking so much at the audience that you think they’re in some sort of distress. After all, why gather up all these action movie old timers and various MMA stars in the first place if all you’re going to do is throw them into a plot that seems leftover from some direct-to-Netflix action flick they’d be starring in anyway even without the combined ‘80s star power of your Stallones and Schwarzeneggers? Not that a spoof mentality or comedic take on the genre of ‘80s action cheese is what this assemblage of actors should aspire to, but man, would it kill the filmmakers to turn out something a touch less dour and routine?

The third film in the franchise opens with Barney Ross (Stallone) leading his team of grizzled warriors on a mission to rescue their long-lost compatriot Doc (Wesley Snipes) from a prison train. After busting him out, the Expendables are sent by Drummer (Harrison Ford, snoozing) to take down a villainous warlord revealed to be Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson, digging into the role with glee) who also happens to be a cofounder of The Expendables. When his team fails, Barney fires them and decides it’s time for some new blood, soliciting Kelsey Grammar to recruit a quartet of bland youngsters who are promptly captured. So once again it is time for the old dogs–plus Antonio Banderas as a scene-stealing newcomer—to save the day and take out the bad guy.

The premise, even if it is worn out by the third film in the series, of having “action” stars of generations past (though I’m not sure Kelsey Grammar and Antonio Banderas really count at all) team up for a fresh take on a tired genre is ripe for a good time, but alas, the only people that seem to be having any fun with this material at all are Gibson and Banderas, with Gibson making his case to be a big Hollywood star again, provided he go hat in hand and apologize for his past insanity. But that’s neither here nor there, and even crackling turns from Gibson and Banderas can paint over the fact that supposed ringer Harrison Ford is so incredibly disinterested in the whole affair that he plays one confrontation scene with Stallone while standing perfectly still. Ford’s attitude was likely “Who gives a shit?” It feels like that sentiment is the defining characteristic of the whole movie.

Brooklyn’s Finest

March 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Richard Gere, Don Chedle, Ethan Hawke
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua (“Shooter”)
Written by: Michael C. Martin (debut)

Someone really needs to start a Save the Squibs campaign in Hollywood. Those tiny little explosive devices used in the movies to pop packets of fake blood and create the effect of someone getting shot are being wasted. While squibs are fairly cheap in comparison to other special effects, the cost can add up if you use them as gratuitously as director Antoine Fuqua does in his latest dirty-cop film “Brooklyn’s Finest.” It’s a violent, mind-numbing, and generic cop flick that kicks down the door with guns blazing and has nothing new to say.

Despite the overemphasis on the brutality of life in the hood, the blood spurting is not the real problem. Fuqua filled Denzel Washington with bullet holes at the end of his Academy Award-winning performance in “Training Day” in 2001 and that violent scene was shot to perfection. What doesn’t work in “Finest,” however, is Fuqua inability to detach himself in any way from first-time screenwriter Michael C. Martin’s horribly clichéd script and his failure to differentiate intense performances with overacting.

In “Finest,” three New York City police officers play the pawns of this wannabe gritty drama. Richard Gere (“Nights in Rodanthe”) is Eddie, a veteran cop with an alcohol problem who is only a week away from retirement. You get a sense of who he is when he rolls out of bed and into a bottle of Jack. He’s also in love with a prostitute, but the script doesn’t really explain why. Don Cheadle (“Traitor”) is Tango, an undercover cop who is caught up in the criminal underworld and hope he can soon transfer to a cozy desk job. His last assignment: to put the sting on a criminal friend (Wesley Snipes) who just happened to save his life. Ethan Hawke (“Training Day”) is Sal, a crooked cop who starts stealing drug money so he can buy a new home for his growing family.

As Gere, Cheadle, and Hawke hobble through the motions, Martin’s haphazard story structure quickly falls apart before it even begins. If there is supposed to be some kind of statement about the injustices in black America or how faith can’t always heal a reckless soul, Fuqua and Martin miss the mark. “Finest” becomes a hopeless narrative sew together with weakly-written characters with nothing to live for and no reason to change.

Without any emotion invested in any of the officers, there is not much to be concerned over when bodies begin to hit the floor and Fuqua starts thinking he is Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. Even when his stock was at it’s highest nine years ago, he still didn’t come close.