Tag Archives: Mel Gibson

The Expendables 3 (2014) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer
Antonio Banderas as Galgo
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trent “Trench” Mauser
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte
Ronda Rousey as Luna
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee
Glen Powell as Thorn
Victor Ortiz as Mars
Robert Davi as Goran Vata
Director: Patrick Hughes

Years ago, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) co-founded the Expendables with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). After Stonebanks became an arms dealer, Ross was forced to kill him — or so he thought. Now, Stonebanks is back and he’s on a mission to end the Expendables. Ross decides that the way to fight old blood is with new blood, so he assembles a team of younger, faster, more tech-savvy recruits. The battle to topple Stonebanks becomes a clash of old-school methods vs. high-tech expertise.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the 3 Expendables movies. I seem to remember that the first was an okay but rather forgettable action movie, and the second was noticeably better and rather fun throwback flick. However, the 3rd movie really doesn’t work, and its surprisingly because the filmmakers somehow forgot the purpose of these movies to begin with. It’s not even entertainingly bad, it’s just middle of the road flat and average.

The movie starts off well with an entertaining opening action scene (it involves Wesley Snipes breaking out of prison). After that though it’s rather weak, even as a standard action flick, and on the whole still manages to be quite boring. Expendables 3 doesn’t seem self aware like in the 2nd movie and its worse than in the first movie. The Expendables was meant to be this throwback to 80s action movies but instead this movie is about getting a new team, in fact this movie spends too much time with recruiting the new Expendables. I’m also not expecting some kind of compelling story, but even on the level of trashy action movies, this falls pretty flat. Even some of the sillier aspects aren’t entertaining this time, its just incredibly hard to get into the movie. It does improve in the third act as it gets into the climax but it’s not worth sitting through the entire 2 hour runtime to get to that point.

The whole thing about Expendables is that part of its appeal is that it had 80s action stars all together (except Jason Statham for some reason). Expendables 3 forgot that, Stallone is very much the lead but much of the original cast of the first two movies is sidelined for the younger cast. The younger cast includes Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz, and the younger cast really don’t add anything to the movie at all and just end up being annoying more than anything else. The older cast fare a little better, the returning Expendables cast with the likes of Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger do well enough but again, sidelined. Harrison Ford in this movie pretty much replaces Bruce Willis’s role (since Willis didn’t return due to some disagreements between him and Stallone), having a few scenes and all. It’s nice seeing him here but unfortunately doesn’t elevate the movie enough. Wesley Snipes is also a nice addition. Antonio Bandareas is a good actor and on paper him being in the Expendables movies sounds really great, but his character is really annoying, so it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Mel Gibson was a good villain for the movie, the best villain in the trilogy by far, in fact he’s probably the best part of the whole movie. There’s particularly a standout scene with him in a truck like halfway through the movie.

The first Expendables was directed okay by Sylvester Stallone and the second was much better directed by Simon West. The third movie is directed by Patrick Hughes and unfortunately wasn’t all that done well. There is a lot of cuts and shaky cam during the action scenes, its like it was directed like an average modern action movie. Unlike the previous movies in the series, The Expendables 3 isn’t given an R rating. My problem isn’t necessarily that it’s not rated R (since you could just remove the blood from the other movies and they’d work almost as well, if not better), the problem is that it feels like it was shot to be R but then they changed to PG-13, resulting in some things looking different. For example, instead of blood spurting out when people are shot, it’s just lots of dust bouncing off them. There is some really poor CGI here, I know we shouldn’t be expecting much from it, but it even feels poor compared to the previous movie. The climax is entertaining enough, however the Stallone vs Gibson fight should’ve been more than what we got, doesn’t even touch the Stallone vs Jean-Claude Van Damme fight at the end of the second film.

The Expendables 3 is not awful but it’s rather average and somehow pales in comparison to the previous 2 movies, which weren’t even that great. It feels watered down, the new cast mostly don’t add much to it, and it’s just rather boring. Pretty much the only part about The Expendables 3 that is good enough that might be worth watching is Mel Gibson, who makes for an effective villain and the best out of the trilogy. Really the only movie in this trilogy that I’d say is worth watching is the second movie. Even if you’re a fan of the first two movies, I’m not sure that you’ll like this one.

Dragged Across Concrete (2019) Review

Time: 159 Minutes
Cast:
Mel Gibson as Brett Ridgeman
Vince Vaughn as Anthony Lurasetti
Tory Kittles as Henry Johns
Michael Jai White as Biscuit
Jennifer Carpenter as Kelly Summer
Laurie Holden as Melanie Ridgeman
Fred Melamed as Mr. Edmington
Udo Kier as Friedrich
Thomas Kretschmann as Lorentz Vogelmann
Don Johnson as Chief Lt. Calvert
Director: S. Craig Zahler

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE follows two police detectives (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics is leaked to the media. With little money and no options, the embittered policemen descend into the criminal underworld and find more than they wanted waiting in the shadows.

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I haven’t seen any of S. Craig Zahler’s other movies with Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, but I’ve definitely heard of them and have been meaning to get around to them for some time. I also heard about some controversial Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn movie that was being made, and it turns out it’s this movie, didn’t learn until recently that Zahler actually directed it. I heard it was some crime drama, but beyond that and the cast involved, I didn’t really know much about it. Dragged Across Concrete like its title suggests is a grim crime thriller, written, directed and performed exceptionally, and it’s one of my favourites of 2019 thus far.

Dragged Across Concrete boasts a sharply great script from director S. Craig Zahler, from the slowly paced storytelling to the effective dialogue. As I start, I think I should address the elephant in the room, or at least one of them. Ever since the premise of Dragged Across Concrete has been announced, people had been declaring this a MAGA pandering and all around bigoted movie. Given my very apparent praise for this movie already, you could probably already tell that I don’t agree with this. Almost everyone in the movie is not what we’d call ‘a good person’, and definitely not the recently suspended main characters, who are looking for ‘compensation’ after abusing their power as police officers. Sure the movie doesn’t exactly tell you that what they are doing is bad, but it certainly doesn’t endorse the main characters’ actions either, it just shows what they are and give some insight why they’re doing them. The characters are fully developed, fleshed out and feel real, especially the lead characters. People are going to have different opinions about the majority of them, but generally I think we can all agree that they are flawed yet human, with their own lives to lead that we get to have a glimpse at. They are still in the grey area of morality as they have both good and bad aspects to them. Really the only flat out ‘pure evil’ characters in the film that aren’t shown to have any redeeming qualities whatsoever are the dangerous masked men led by Thomas Kretschmann who appear, create chaos and kill people excessively. We don’t really get to learn about these particular characters or why they are how they are, but they are quite intimidating when they are on screen. It is a very bleak movie, the world these characters inhabit just feels unpleasant, the tone borders on nihilism, and as I said many of the characters are hard to root for. It’s generally easy for me to watch these kinds of movies (in fact I kind of love watching them) but I do know that some will find this to be a tough watch. There is one character who’s introduced, and their purpose is ultimately used for shock value (no spoilers), and while people will be split on that, I thought it worked well for the movie. Dragged Across Concrete is quite long at 2 hours 40 minutes, so you really need to be prepared for that. Although I was invested for much of the movie, I feel like it could’ve been cut out a good 10-15 minutes. Much of the movie takes its time, but it feels purposeful and not necessarily self indulgent. It builds up the personality of the characters and the world that they inhabit. Despite some of the more slower pacing throughout, it all comes together at the end to conclude very well.

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are the lead characters, and they were both great in their roles. Now this is Mel Gibson, and while there’s certainly going to be some people who have issues with him even in this movie (understandably), I almost feel like his casting here was a deliberate choice. Gibson generally delivers and this is no exception, this is one of his best performances, if not his best. Although I haven’t seen Vaughn’s other dramatic work like in True Detective or Brawl in Cell Block 99 (another Zahler film), I can say that he’s a great dramatic actor and he was really good here. Gibson and Vaughn are very easy to buy as two cops who have been partnered with each other for a while, and their dynamic was really great. The rest of the supporting cast further grounds the movie with Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson all doing well with their performances, no matter how brief they may be.

Again, this is the first movie I’m seeing from S. Craig Zahler, and I can say that he’s great at what he does, it’s a really great looking movie. I’ve heard that his other movies are considerably more violent, but he handles the violence well here. The violence flashes rather quickly on screen and doesn’t happen as much as you think it would be, but when it’s present it feels grisly and realistic, it’s not overplayed but the impact is still there nonetheless.

Dragged Across Concrete won’t work for everyone, it’s very long, it can be a hard watch, and it’s likely to provoke some people. However I thought that it was a generally well made movie, from the cast (particularly Gibson and Vaughn), to the direction and the story, it’s one of my favourite movies of 2019 thus far. I definitely want to see Zahler’s other movies now, he’s already proven with Dragged Across Concrete that he’s a really great filmmaker, and I’d love to see what he makes next.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Depicts graphic & realistic war scenes.
Cast
Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss
Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell
Sam Worthington as Captain Jack Glover
Luke Bracey as Smitty Ryker
Hugo Weaving as Tom Doss
Ryan Corr as Lieutenant Manville
Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte
Director: Mel Gibson

The true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the conscientious objector who, at the Battle of Okinawa, won the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery and regard for his fellow soldiers. We see his upbringing and how this shaped his views, especially his religious view and anti-killing stance. We see Doss’s trials and tribulations after enlisting in the US Army and trying to become a medic. Finally, we see the hell on Earth that was Hacksaw Ridge.

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Hacksaw Ridge had sparked my curiosity and I first heard of it when it was gaining Oscar buzz and fortunately I managed to watch it before the 2017 Oscars. Overall it was a pretty good movie with its story, the performances (particularly from Andrew Garfield) and Mel Gibson’s direction. There are some cliché elements and it does get a little too over the top at times in certain aspects, but overall I think it’s a pretty solid movie.

The first act focussed on the protagonist Desmond Doss and him when he’s training to be a soldier and refuses to use a gun. The second half is the event at Hacksaw Ridge. Now at times this film does seem cliché in the way they decided to portray events and characters. For example, Vince Vaughn’s character is pretty much like R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket, without a whole lot of development (I know a lot of drill sergeants are like this but here it just comes across as being cartoony). Also the Japanese in this movie are represented as just generic enemy soldiers, nothing much more than that, it doesn’t necessarily make the movie worse but it’s just worth noting. I guess this movie was more about Desmond and his part in the war rather than about both sides on the war so it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s just a little noticeable. I myself am not sure how accurate this movie is to real events, so I can’t comment on that aspect. However aside from my issues with that I’d say that Hacksaw Ridge is pretty good overall. It is a long movie at 139 minutes but consistently it had my attention.

Andrew Garfield is great in his role here, this is one of his best performances. It’s easy to like and care about him, but it’s most importantly easy to understand why he makes the decisions that he does, and Garfield’s acting definitely helped with that. Teresa Palmer plays a nurse who Doss starts a relationship with, they were great together. The supporting cast is also good. Vince Vaughn is good, as I said earlier, his character is pretty one note but Vaughn does act his role well. Sam Worthington, also great in this movie, I think with this and Everest, I can say that Sam Worthington really works best in supporting roles. The supporting performance that steals the show however is Hugo Weaving, as Desmond’s father, it’s a really powerful performance and a stand out performance in a bunch of great performances.

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Mel Gibson is directing this movie and as you can probably guess, Hacksaw Ridge is very violent, I mean of course its because it’s a war movie but also because Mel Gibson is directing. All the battle scenes are viscious and brutal, it does ocassionally feel like it’s a little too violent, like a little too over the top. But overall the direction is great. It does really feel like it’s absolute chaos and really places you in the war. The soundtrack by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great.

Overall, I think Hacksaw Ridge is pretty good. The acting was great, the direction by Gibson was solid and I was invested in this story from start to finish. Not everything is perfect, there is definitely some issues I had in the way Gibson decided to tell the story. But for the most part, this movie does get a lot of things right.