Terminator: Dark Fate review

For F*** Magazine

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE

Director: Tim Miller
Cast : Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta, Enrique Arce
Genre : Sci-fi/Action/Horror
Run Time : 2 h 8 mins
Opens : 24 October 2019
Rating : NC16

The Terminator franchise is a defining one in the genres of sci-fi, action and horror. While the imagery and the catchphrases have become ingrained in popular culture, the film series has struggled to recapture the glory of the first two entries. The underrated spinoff television series was sadly short-lived. James Cameron, who directed the first two films and helmed the theme park attraction but has had no direct involvement in the series since then, returns as a producer for this sixth film.

It is 27 years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. A young Mexican woman named Daniella “Dani” Ramos (Natalia Reyes) has been targeted by the Rev-9 Terminator (Gabriel Luna), who has been sent back in time to kill her. Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a cybernetically-enhanced human soldier from the future, has been sent back in time to protect Dani. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who has spent the last two decades hunting Terminators, joins Dani and Grace to fight the seemingly invincible Rev-9. Along the way, they meet the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), one of several sent back in time after Sarah’s son John Connor years ago, who has been keeping a low profile. The future is once again in the hands of Sarah Connor, who has gained new allies in her long-term battle against the machines.

Terminator: Dark Fate learns from the failure of the previous entries. The most recent Terminator film before this, Terminator: Genisys, was a jumbled mess of multiple timelines and attempted to remix beloved elements of the series, alienating fans in the process. Dark Fate benefits from more of a back-to-basics approach, presenting a straightforward story without relying too much on exposition. It functions as a direct sequel to Judgement Day, with all the other films taking place in alternate timelines. This is not dissimilar to 2018’s Halloween, which was a direct sequel to the 1978 movie and ignored the many sequels that were made in the intervening years.

The film’s biggest asset is Linda Hamilton, who has not appeared in any of the films since Judgement Day. This is much more than the glorified cameo which we could’ve gotten, with the Sarah Connor character front and centre. Hamilton took some convincing to come back on board, and the film really wouldn’t have worked if she had said no. Hamilton easily conveys the no-nonsense toughness fans of the series know and love, but also delivers a genuinely good performance beyond that. The R-rating means that she gets to swear a whole lot, and she’s amazing at it. There are several moments when just a look from Hamilton tells us so much. This is a character who has been through the wringer and would like the world to think she can just shrug it off, but there is a lot of sadness and pain that she’s internalised – when those shards are visible, that’s when Hamilton’s immense contribution to the movie really registers.

Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in more of a supporting capacity, but completely steals the show when he’s onscreen. The film wisely makes use of Schwarzenegger’s comedic talents while also preserving the formidable physical power associated with the T-800 character.

One scene in the film showcases the most convincing digital de-aging/face replacement effects we’ve ever seen.

The film clearly aspires to the heights of Judgement Day, so it is noticeable when it falls short of those heights. There are moments when the film is almost emotional, and while there are some moving beats, there is nothing nearly as sublime as “I know now why you cry, but it’s something that I could never do.” While the stronger connection to the first two films anchors Dark Fate in the tone and mythos of the earlier movies, it also prevents the movie from being too innovative on its own terms. Also, much of the events in Judgement Day seem to have been rendered moot – not quite to the level of “Ripley finds Newt and Hicks dead at the beginning of Alien 3,” but it does approach that.

While some action sequences are brilliantly executed, others feel just a touch too synthetic. The visual effects are leaps and bounds over the somewhat unpolished work seen in Genisys, but there are still moments when one thing made of CGI is being thrown into another thing also made of CGI. Out of necessity, the earlier films made ingenious use of practical animatronic effects and miniature models. Director Tim Miller of Deadpool fame is a co-founder of Blur Studio, best known for making animated cutscenes and cinematics for video games. The action sequences in Dark Fate can sometimes come off as a little too video game-esque, but Miller does often demonstrate a keen awareness of how to place elements in space to create action sequences.

The Dani character is sympathetic and Natalia Reyes gives the role her all, but she can sometimes come off as a little whiny and is not written that well.

 Another way that the film echoes Judgement Day is in its villain, the shape-shifting Rev-9. Like Robert Patrick, Gabriel Luna is less conspicuous in a crowd than Arnold Schwarzenegger, meaning the Rev-9 is more convincing as an infiltration unit. It also has a neat gimmick of being able to separate itself into liquid metal outer shell and endoskeleton, allowing it to perform tag-team attacks. Rev-9 is perhaps a touch too indestructible, such that the action sequences become a little repetitive.

Mackenzie Davis’ Grace is a great addition to the canon. This reviewer enjoys seeing actors whom one wouldn’t typically associate with action movies take on action-heavy roles. Davis underwent a complete physical transformation to play the muscular, angular Grace. There is a tragedy to the character, who has sacrificed her physical autonomy for the cause, so she is always sympathetic.

Terminator: Dark Fate is in a way commenting on the history of the series. There is so much that’s memorable about the first two Terminator films that it’s hard to resist the temptation to make constant references to them. Yes, Sarah Connor does say “I’ll be back”, but Dark Fate demonstrates restraint and refuses to lean on the series’ storied past as a crutch.

It’s not brilliant, but especially when compared to Genisys, this is a lot closer to what a Terminator movie should feel like. Terminator: Dark Fate is not a film that strictly needs to exist, but by building a strong connection to the second film and by getting Linda Hamilton back in a starring role, it satisfyingly echoes the franchise at its best.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Aftermath

For F*** Magazine

AFTERMATH 

Director : Elliott Lester
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scoot McNairy, Maggie Grace, Judah Nelson, Glenn Morshower, Martin Donovan
Genre : Drama
Run Time : 1h 34min
Opens : 27 April 2017
Rating : NC16 (Some Violence and Scene of Intimacy)

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been back in the limelight, after a short-lived stint on The Apprentice which earned the relentless mockery of the show’s former host, President Trump. In this film, Schwarzenegger leaves the realm of reality television for ‘serious actor’ territory.

The Austrian Oak plays Roman Melnyk, a construction foreman whose wife Olena (Tammy Tsai) and pregnant daughter Nadiya (Danielle Sherrick) are flying in from Ukraine to spend Christmas with him in the United States. Olena and Nadiya’s plane is caught in a tragic mid-air collision, which claims the lives of 271 souls aboard both aircraft. Broken and distraught, Roman blames Jake Bonanos (McNairy), the air traffic controller on duty. Jake is wracked with guilt following the incident, and spirals into a depression that affects his relationship with his wife Christina (Grace) and his young son Samuel (Nelson). Roman decides to take matters into his own hands, and sets about tracking down Jake to kill him.

Aftermath is inspired by the real-life incident of the Überlingen mid-air collision in 2002, when two planes flew into each other above a German town. Russian architect Vitaly Kaloyev, whose wife and two children perished in the crash, hunted down Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller handling traffic at the time, even though an inquest cleared Nielsen of any responsibility.

Elements such as disaster, grief and revenge make this a potentially compelling tale. However, Aftermath’s heavy-handed approach draws too much attention to itself. Director Elliott Lester practically shouts “this is a serious, artistic drama, you guys!” from the rooftops. The title card consists of all-lowercase white letters on a black background, as Mark D. Todd’s contemplative piano-driven score plays in the background. Then, the title card ‘roman’ (similarly all-lowercase) appears, showing us the events from Roman’s point of view. Subsequently, we get a title card reading ‘jacob’, switching to Jacob’s perspective. These stylistic touches are intended to legitimise Aftermath, but instead give it the vibe of a student film. This is to say nothing of Javier Gullón’s often inelegant dialogue. Gullón is known for writing Denis Villeneuve’s mind-bending psychological thriller Enemy.

Schwarzenegger has been dipping his toes into more dramatic fare, playing a father who struggles with gradually losing his daughter to a zombie virus in Maggie. Perhaps it was easier to accept Schwarzenegger flexing his thespian muscles in Maggie, because it was ostensibly still a genre film. While Schwarzenegger takes the role of Roman seriously, his presence is distracting. Part of it is because he’s never without his trademark Austrian accent, and is playing a Ukrainian man in this film. There’s also a random superfluous moment in which we see Schwarzenegger’s bare posterior while he’s in the shower, which seems hardly necessary. The film is set during Christmastime, and “Jingle Bells” is played in one scene. Surely it must have occurred to Lester that this would only conjure up memories of the Schwarzenegger-starring family comedy Jingle All the Way.

Aftermath is interesting in that it has no villain, and we’re meant to sympathise equally with Roman and Jake. The circumstances under which the collision happened are clearly explained, with the primary causes being that the control tower was short-staffed and phones were malfunctioning. McNairy is a capable performer, but Jake’s meltdown isn’t any different from other downward spirals we’ve seen in movies or TV. The film also goes the on-the-nose route of establishing just how rosy things are between Jake and Christina, obviously signalling that things will fall apart.

We’ve refrained from stating it here, but if one does a cursory look-up of Kaloyev’s actions following the Überlingen mid-air collision, one will know how things ended. As such, the events depicted in Aftermath are predictable, and even at 92 minutes, well below the average running time for a drama, the film feels padded out. Instead of being a visceral meditation of the destructive power unchecked, unmanaged grief can have, Aftermath seems more concerned with packaging itself as respectable awards-worthy fare.

Summary: Try as he might, Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t shake off the baggage of being an action star and pop culture icon. The grave, deadly serious film that surrounds him is stodgy rather than impactful and moving.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Terminator Genisys

For F*** Magazine

TERMINATOR GENISYS

Director : Alan Taylor
Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J. K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Matthew Smith, Courtney B. Vance, Lee Byung-Hun 
Genre : Sci-Fi/Action
Run Time : 126 mins
Opens : 25 June 2015
Rating : PG13 (Violence & Brief Coarse Language)

“There is no fate but what we make” – the filmmakers behind the fifth entry in the Terminator film series hope to rewrite its fate, after the third and fourth films left most critics and moviegoers cold. Sci-fi fans know the drill – artificially intelligent network Skynet has taken over the world, killing most of earth’s population in the apocalyptic “Judgement Day”. In the future, John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads the resistance against the machines. In this reboot, John sends his trusted lieutenant Kyle Reese (Courtney) back in time from 2029 to 1984 to save John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) from the T-800 Terminator (Schwarzenegger/Brett Azar/Aaron V. Williamson). Kyle arrives in the past to discover he has entered an alternate timeline where Sarah Connor already knows her destiny and has been watched over by an aging T-800 she has nicknamed “Pops” (also Schwarzenegger). Forced to team up with Sarah and Pops, Kyle has to figure out what this means for the future as Skynet takes on a new form; the universal connectivity app “Genisys”.


            2015 has already seen the release of new Mad Max and Jurassic Park films, with the seventh Star Wars movie due in December. We won’t be griping about the prevalence of sequels and reboots, because those can be good – it seems the problem isn’t so much that Hollywood has run out of ideas but that studio executives are banking too much on brand recognition and the built-in audience a pre-existing intellectual property brings with it. Terminator Genisys is caught in a paradox: one won’t be able to fully grasp its place in the larger Terminator mythos without having seen the earlier films, but if one holds the first two movies very dear, it’s likely to be a considerable disappointment. The “alternate timeline” route, not unlike with the 2009 Star Trek reboot, seems like a reasonable premise for a series built on time travel. However, the directions that Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier’s screenplay takes this in often feel like desperate attempts to stretch out a series that should have ended with 1991’s T2 (or at least the theme park attraction T2: 3D Battle Across Time). Judgement Day is postponed – again – and our protagonists have to stop this new Judgement Day from happening – again.


            The film is comparable to a greatest hits album as sung by a cover band – it’s trying its darndest to add something to the existing material but often feels perfunctory in having to hit those certain iconic waypoints along the way. Genisys actually does a fine job of setting up its fairly convoluted back-story in its opening minutes – we’re told in relatively concise fashion what Skynet is, what happened on Judgement Day, who John Connor is, why Kyle Reese needs to be sent back in time and what the scope of the threat is. Even then, more than a passing familiarity with T1 and 2 is needed for all of it to make proper sense. There’s also the matter of the spectacle – sure, there are plenty of action set pieces and there is some cool new imagery, particularly during a scene involving a MRI scanner, but none of it is truly awe-inspiring or unique. The first two Terminator films, T2 in particular, broke a lot of ground in the realm of special and visual effects and packed in jaw-dropping moments that still hold up today. There is a marked over-reliance on computer-generated imagery and yes, while this is a series about robots, it all feels too synthetic. There’s a helicopter chase that looks entirely like it belongs in a video game and the T-1000’s (Lee) liquid metal effects are on about the same level as those in T2 24 years ago.

            Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the iconic role of the T-800 does lend some legitimacy to the enterprise but we’re sure some fans will find it difficult to accept that the lethal killing machine is now relegated to a softer father figure and often functions as the comic relief. Schwarzenegger still possesses the chops to pull off the action beats and is still a believable badass. However, we don’t get anything half as heart-rending as the bond between the T-800 and a young John Connor in T2, even when the Terminator is supposed to have practically raised Sarah since she was a little girl. At times, this reviewer felt like he was watching a lavishly-produced fan film that had managed to snag an actor from the original show, akin to how Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei sometimes make appearances in Star Trek fan productions.

            What makes it all the more difficult for this to be accepted as a proper Terminator continuation is that while Arnie is a recognisable holdover from the earlier films, all the other re-imagined characters look and feel so different than how we know them. Emilia Clarke goes from being the Mother of Dragons to the mother of humanity’s last hope. She is miscast as Sarah Connor, largely unconvincing as a badass woman who has spent most of her life under the tutelage of a purpose-built killing machine. When compared to how intense Linda Hamilton was in the role, Emilia Clarke seems like she’s merely playing dress-up, whiny rather than burdened with the fate of the human race.

            Jai Courtney looks and acts nothing like Michael Biehn, making him another puzzling casting choice. Where Biehn’s Kyle Reese was a sensitive, scarred but romantic figure, Courtney is more brutish. When Kyle and Sarah get into arguments, as they often do throughout the film, it feels awfully petty instead of carrying the weight of life and death. While undoubtedly a central figure to the mythos, John Connor has never really been the most interesting character of the series. Jason Clarke is fine in the role and the major plot twist in the film (which was spoiled in the trailers and the poster) does add an interesting layer to the character, but purists will probably find it sacrilegious. Lee Byung-hun does little more than run fast and look menacing as the shape-shifting T-1000 and J. K. Simmons is entirely wasted in a throwaway bit part as the lone police officer who believes Sarah and Kyle’s far-fetched story. Doctor Who’s Matt Smith also pops up in a small but crucial role.

            As a standalone sci-fi action film, Terminator: Genisys has its entertaining moments and isn’t as confusing in presenting its alternate timeline plot as it could’ve been. However, it’s impossible to pretend that this film doesn’t come with more than its share of baggage and doesn’t have a towering legacy to live up to. In riffing on what James Cameron had created with the first two Terminator films, Terminator Genisys director Alan Taylor has delivered a pale imitation of a sci-fi icon, an also-rans at best. Stick around for a mid-credits sequel-bait scene.


Summary:There is effort put into Terminator Genisys, but this attempt at continuing the franchise can’t help but feel it exists just for the sake of existing and is likely to alienate long-time fans of the series.
RATING: 2.5out of 5 Stars
Jedd Jong 

Maggie

For F*** Magazine

MAGGIE

Director : Henry Hobson
Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
Genre : Horror/Thriller
Run Time : 95 mins
Opens : 8 May 2015
Rating : PG13 (Some Disturbing Scenes)

            Arnold Schwarzenegger has played the protective father casting a watchful eye over his daughter in many an action flick. In this horror drama, he plays Wade Vogel, a Papa Wolf of a different stripe. Wade’s daughter Maggie (Breslin) is among the victims of an epidemic, infected by a virus that slowly turns its host into cannibalistic zombies. Maggie, her father and her stepmother Caroline (Richardson) live in fear of “the turn”, the point in the disease’s incubation period from which there is no coming back. As Maggie struggles with the illness and the impact her condition has on those she holds dear, Wade stands steadfast by his daughter’s side.

            Coming off like an alternate universe collaboration between Jodi Picoult and George A. Romero, Maggie takes a zombie outbreak and spins this horror trope into a terminal illness drama. John Scott 3’s screenplay landed on the 2011 Black List of most-liked unproduced scripts in Hollywood and it’s easy to see the appeal in the premise. However, Maggie often gets caught up in said premise, unable to transcend the concept itself to be truly affecting. Director Henry Hobson takes great pains to establish the situation and portray the epidemic as a credible threat, but seeing how ingrained a particular interpretation of zombies are in popular culture, it will be difficult for audiences to break free of the perception of zombies as mindless, shambling monsters and even harder for them to reconcile that with tender family drama.

            Those whose lives have been affected by terminal illness directly or otherwise will certainly be able to relate to many of the heart-rending scenarios presented in Maggie. We applaud the allegorical approach and this isn’t the first story to put a spin on the zombie formula – World War Z (the book far more so than the film) was a socio-political satire set against a global zombie outbreak. Maggie takes the premise very seriously, devoid of self-reflexive winks at the audience, and is earnest to a fault. There is always the danger that the inherent absurdity of a weepy zombie flick will negate the emotional beats, Maggieoccasionally painting itself into this corner. The film is also very much a slow burn, drifting from scene to scene in an episodic fashion. Even though there are disturbing moments of tension and there’s a ticking clock element in place, Maggie often lacks a crucial urgency.

            The cast does give it their all and this does have the vibe of an indie picture that’s managed to snag a couple of big names because they were drawn to the challenge. This has been touted as a revelatory performance from Schwarzenegger, and while he is more convincingly vulnerable than we’ve ever seen him, it is difficult to completely buy the Austrian Oak as an average Midwestern dad for obvious reasons. That trademark accent is an integral part of the Schwarzenegger brand and his larger-than-life persona works against him in this film, as opposed to dovetailing into the onscreen role. The most justification this is given is the surname “Vogel”. Rather than completely becoming the character, as is the goal for any actor, Schwarzenegger’s presence calls attention to itself in spite of his best efforts. That said, it is a smart move on his part to tackle a “serious acting” role that happens to be in a genre movie.
     
       Abigail Breslin delivers a raw, moving performance, assisted by unsettling makeup effects devised by Michael Broom, Karri Farris and other talented artists. The Oscar nominee takes it as seriously as something like My Sister’s Keeper, and the turmoil within Maggie as the zombie virus tightens its grip on her is sufficiently moving. She persists in trying to live as regular a life as possible, one of the film’s best scenes set during a campfire as Maggie hangs out with her friends, clinging to whatever normalcy remains in her existence. Joely Richardson’s turn as Maggie’s stepmother Caroline is realistic, never overplaying the implication that her attitude towards Maggie’s condition differs from Wade’s because Maggie isn’t her biological daughter. That all three are believable as a family unit is testament to the level of acting skill everyone brings to the table.

            Maggie is a bold little experiment and its mashup of genres sometimes yields results, but it is ultimately less absorbing than it could’ve been. This reviewer spent much of the running time wondering “is this a horror movie that’s trying to be a drama or is this a drama with elements of horror stirred in?” This indicates that the seams are still visible. However, we’d still recommend this for horror aficionados looking for a change of pace from the usual frenzied jump scare festivals and perhaps as a gateway for audiences who aren’t big horror buffs and prefer more substantial fare.

Summary: A zombie flick that cries “heart” rather than “BRAINS!”, Maggie has its shortcomings but is worth noticing for its uniqueness.
RATING: 3 out of 5Stars

Jedd Jong 

The Expendables 3

THE EXPENDABLES 3

Director : Patrick Hughes
Cast : Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Genre : Action/Thriller
Opens : 14 August 2014
Rating : PG13 (Violence & Some Coarse Language)
Running time: 126 mins

 “If you’re looking to get the job done/ Be it murder or rescuing ladies/ You cannot do better than old guys/ Who were popular back in the 80s…” so go the lyrics to comedians Jon and Al Kaplan’s musical spoof of The Expendables. Those grizzled guys are back with some young blood to add to the crew. Barney Ross (Stallone), Gunner Jensen (Lundgren), Lee Christmas (Stallone), Toll Road (Couture) and Hail Caesar (Crews) break old team-member Doctor Death (Snipes) out of prison. In the ensuing mission, they encounter Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), a former Expendable-turned weapons and dealer and war criminal, hitherto thought of as dead. Barney brings in a younger bunch of mercenaries (Lutz, Rousey, Powell, Ortiz), with Spanish Armed Forces veteran Galgo (Banderas) insistent on joining. He is also assisted by Trench (Schwarzenegger), Yin Yang (Li) and Major Max Drummer (Ford), going up against the army Stonebanks has in his pocket.

This entire film series exists as a loving ode to 80s action films, featuring those who starred in said films proving they’ve still got the right stuff. As such, there was something of an outcry over this movie’s PG-13 rating – as the Kaplans put it later on in their song, “PG-13 is for pussies”. This reviewer wasn’t too bothered by that – while bloodless, the body count in this one is still very high. Also, the one f-bomb is given to just the right actor. No, this movie’s problems lie elsewhere. Succeeding Stallone and Simon West at the helm is Australian director Patrick Hughes, known for his neo-Western Red Hill. His direction here is mostly rote and journeyman-like; while competent, the action sequences lack flair or drive. There is a curious dearth of urgency or intensity in this action-thriller, even when an actual ticking bomb is introduced. It’s not like there isn’t a lot of shooting, punching or stuff blowing up, but the film often feels like it’s spinning its wheels, going nowhere fast.

            Why do action film junkies go to the Expendables movies? To relive the glory days of their cinematic heroes. As such, anytime the “Young Expendables” are onscreen, this reviewer was counting the minutes to when the actual Expendables – you know, the guys we came to see – would return. Even without Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell and Victor Ortiz, the roster is already pretty crowded. There’s no time for us to get to know anyone and in place of characterisation, there’s bickering, mutual ribbing and general macho bro-ey-ness. We’re not expecting Chekhov or Mamet but just give us something to hang on to! The action sequences are fine, they aren’t infested with shaky-cam as most contemporaneous action sequences tend to be, but the sub-par visual effects work is carried over from the last two films. If it’s meant to evoke the cheap look of 80s action movies, then that’s the wrong nostalgia bone to tickle.

            The film is at its best when it goes for nostalgia in the right way, with its stars winking and nodding at the audience via references to their past work. Snipes’ character loves blades and jokes about being jailed for tax evasion. Schwarzenegger gets to say “get to the choppa!” Kelsey Grammer’s character makes a crack about ex-wives. However, in-jokes alone do not a good movie make. In spite of the humour, this go-round just seems a whole lot less fun. Indeed, Stallone often looks as though he’s grimacing through a heavy, dead-serious thriller. Nothing in this one matches Chuck Norris spouting his own “Chuck Norris fact” in the second film. Also, Harrison Ford does not say “get off my plane”. That’s a missed opportunity right there.

Mel Gibson is apparently paying penance for his myriad indiscretions by appearing in genre schlock like this and last year’s Machete Kills. He does go crazy-eyed Mad Mel but fails to be as memorable a baddie as Jean-Claude Van Damme was. Somewhere between the writing and direction, the potential for Conrad Stonebanks to be a spectacular bad guy is lost. Jet Li doesn’t bust a single kung fu move. What’s up with that? And yes, Ronda Rousey is a badass UFC champion, but this film is yet another example of “The Smurfette principle”, with one lone woman among a bunch of guys. Where are Linda Hamilton, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Yeoh?

      
      A good chunk of the film seems to exist as a rather petty raised middle finger to Bruce Willis, with whom Stallone had a falling out with over the former’s salary. It’s a good thing then that Harrison Ford is an upgrade and seeing him chew Stallone out earlier in the film is as exciting as the biggest action scenes are. “I haven’t had so much fun in years,” he says. We almost believe him. Antonio Banderas as the talkative comic relief – that’s an odd choice, but he’s still fairly entertaining. The Expendables 3 never amounts to more than the sum of its parts and even when Kellan Lutz’s stunt double jumps a motorcycle off the tail of a crashed helicopter, it falls short of effectively harkening back to the 80s action films it wants to homage.

Summary: There’s less vim and vigour in this third go-round for Stallone and co. and worse, they have to jostle for screen time with those meddling kids.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong