Friday’s Film Reviews: The Expendables 3 and The Unbeatables

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Antonio Banderas flex their muscles in The Expendables 3, and a talented table footballer learns to play the beautiful game for real in the computer-animated fantasy The Unbeatables.

Friday’s Film Reviews: The Expendables 3 and The Unbeatables

The Expendables 3

Following a spectacular stunt aboard a moving train that opens this third instalment of the action franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger turns to Sylvester Stallone and wearily confides, “I’m getting out of this business... and so should you.”

Sage advice from the former governor of California.

His words fall on deaf ears because The Expendables is a cash cow for Stallone, who directed and co-wrote the opening salvo in 2010 and has been reliving his muscle-bound glory days ever since.

Australian director Patrick Hughes, who impressed with the gritty low-budget western Red Hill, takes charge of this outlandish mission festooned with bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat, pithy one-liners and deafening explosions.

And The Expendables 3 certainly opens with a bang. Several, in fact.

The Expendables 3 is an entertaining and ridiculously far-fetched tour of duty that sensibly welcomes fresh faces to the fold and provides Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes with sizeable roles to turn back the clocks.

“I haven’t had so much fun in years,” cackles Ford after he lays waste to hordes of enemy soldiers.

The clash between old-school brute force and modern-day tech savvy provides the scriptwriters with a rich vein of humour. Thus when Barney outlines his heavy-handed solution to toppling Stonebanks, nightclub bouncer Luna snorts derisively, “It’s a great plan... if it was 1985.”

Stallone looks good for his age and sparks brotherly banter with Jason Statham, whose wavering accent is a prime target for put-downs.

They look like proud fathers, passing the mantle to the next generation of action heroes, who could potentially help the Expendables sequels reach double digits while Stallone does his bit for the cause with a zimmerframe rocket launcher.

Star Rating: 3/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 33%

The Unbeatables

The beautiful game turns ugly in Juan Jose Campanella’s free-flowing computer-animated fantasy.

Released on home turf in South America more than a year ago where it scored a record-breaking opening weekend, this English language version is a visual treat.

However the script scores a few own goals with a tepid romantic subplot and an emotionally underpowered final shootout that fails to rouse audiences on the terraces of their multiplexes.

In football, timing is crucial and can mean the difference between hard fought victory and soul-destroying defeat. The timing of The Unbeatables seems slightly off.

Surely Campanella’s film should have kicked off four weeks ago on the crest of a post-World Cup wave rather than standing on the touchlines until the start of the new Premier League season?

The Unbeatables is a classic David vs Goliath yarn that pokes fun at the preening prima donnas of the modern game, who earn more in one week for 90 minutes of dribbling than many of us see in a year.

The writers have personalized the dialogue to these shores, including a name check for Accrington Stanley FC and a sideswipe at Sepp Blatter and his organization when Flash’s insidious agent grins, “You can trust me – I worked at FIFA!”

Set pieces including a visit to a fairground are a triumph of style over plausibility, treading water until Amadeo must face his destiny under his rival’s malevolent gaze.

Vocal performances hit the woodwork, combining warmth with some shameless grandstanding from Rob Brydon as the egotist, who spends almost as much time admiring his voluminous locks as he does perfecting his passing shots.

Star Rating: 3/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 50%

In selected cinemas…

The Rover

‘Animal Kingdom’ director David Michod heads into the outback for a gritty thriller set in a dystopian hell, where every resource can be traded for dollars in the aftermath of a global economic collapse.

Eric (Guy Pearce) parks his car by the side of the road and enjoys a drink in a bar. Outside, robbers Henry (Scott McNairy), Archie (David Field) and Caleb (Tawanda Manyimo) crash their car during a haphazard getaway and they steal Eric’s motor to continue their flight to freedom.

Eric gives chase and when he confronts the trio to demand the return of his property, they knock him unconscious. Waking some time later beneath the blazing sun, Eric continues his pursuit of the robbers.

Thankfully, he crosses paths with Henry’s injured brother Rey (Robert Pattinson), who was left for dead during the bungled heist.

Rotten Tomatoes.com Rating: 66%

Hector And The Search For Happiness

Based on the book of the same name by Francois Lelord, Hector And The Search For Happiness is a romantic comedy directed by Peter Chelsom about a man who learns to appreciate everything he already has rather than hanker for more.

Psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) is himself beginning to feel just as depressed, dissatisfied and jaded as the patients he is supposed to be treating.

In an effort to jolt himself out of this fug, Hector kisses his long-time girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) farewell and embarks on a globe-trotting journey of self-discovery to seek out true happiness.

As he zigzags the globe, visiting a Tibetan monastery and discovery the hidden delights of China, Hector crosses paths with a motley crew of disillusioned souls including a world-weary banker called Edward (Stellan Skarsgard) and Professor Coreman (Christopher Plummer), who is in charge of Happiness Studies at UCLA.

Hector also reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Agnes (Toni Collette) and she helps him to acknowledge that the happiness and fulfilment he seeks are closer to home.

Rotten Tomatoes.com Rating: 25%

What If

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) drops out of medical school, in part to escape his failed relationship with another student.

He becomes disillusioned with love, convinced that he will never meet a significant other like his kooky roommate Allan (Adam Driver), who intends to marry his perfect partner, Nicole (Mackenzie Davis).

So Wallace vows to steer clear of romance and seeks refuge in the company of his sister Ellie (Jemima Rooper) and her son Felix (Lucius Hoyos).

At his lowest ebb, Wallace meets talented animator Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall).

Chantry and Wallace become good friends but both recognise a spark of attraction that could be fanned into a full-blown affair.

As they wrestle with their feelings, Chantry’s sister Dalia (Megan Park) makes a play for Wallace.

Released on August 20.

Rotten Tomatoes.com Rating: 71%

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