August 15th is a day that you should have marked off on your calendar. Now, it could be because you’re way into canals and you’re celebrating the opening of Panama’s version (which obviously was envisioned by Teddy Roosevelt when he drunkenly scrawled the palindrome “A man. A plan. A canal. Panama.” on a napkin). Or you’re pumped ‘cause you’re a Jesuit and you’re marking the 480th anniversary of the formation of your society. Or really any of the other things that happened on August 15th listed on this site (what, did you really think I knew when the Panama Canal was opened?).
Those may be acceptable reasons, but they aren’t the correct reason. And that reason is called “The Expendables III.” Holy wow am I pumped to see this movie. In fact, I started working out in order to be in Expendables-level shape by the time it came out. Sorta. I did a push-up after seeing the trailer. Almost all the way. But the point is, I cannot wait for this movie to come out.
Now, there are a lot of naysayers when it comes to this film. “It’s bloated with fading action stars.” “There’s no plot!” “I wouldn’t watch it even if my income was expendable!” Well, naysayers and person who’s apparently making as much money as I am, let me set the record straight.
I’m not as interested in the list of stars that signed up. I mean I’m glad they got all the people who they did. It’s a solid cast list, though I’d say Antonio Banderas in this medium is a bit of a stretch. Dude had Desperado and what, Zorro? Not quite the action-movie pedigree. But my main excitement for the movie is that this is an 80s action movie. That I can see in a theater.
These movies have what can be described as “little plot, lots of muscle, lots of ‘splosions.” That was the formula for those times, and to a large degree that doesn’t exist nowadays. Michael Bay desperately tries to do that, but I’d argue his ratios are off (too many explosions, not enough muscle). Plus his films also have one added feature that destroys the enjoyment of his movies. Which is pretentiousness.
Action movies of the 80s were ridiculous in every way, but they were also unpretentious. In fact, they were blissfully self-aware of their ridiculousness. Arnold’s one-liners were terrible, and we knew it and he knew it and it was awesome anyway. And that’s why we look back on those movies with nostalgia. You see, when you take away pretentiousness from an action movie (really any movie), that movie becomes 100% entertaining. I’m not saying other movies aren’t entertaining, I’m saying those movies are only entertainment.
It’s like that bumbling oaf of a friend everyone has. Who isn’t really good for deep conversation, or sharing feelings, or anything like that, but man oh man he or she will pound some shots with you and get in trouble for singing The Carpenter’s Superstar with a random stranger in front of his/her significant other. They’re pure entertainment.
The Expendables series tapped into that. No one’s expecting an Oscar-caliber performance. Least of all ‘ol Sly Stallone and the rest of the folks who made the movies. They’re perfect for sneaking one to several airplane bottles into the theater, buying the smallest soda you can (still 64 oz) and gettin’ hammered while Jason Statham kicks some dude in the face. You leave the theater thinking “Terry Crews has some majestic chesticles” and little more. Which in this day and age is a beautiful thing (though I’d argue Terry Crews’ chesticles are always a beautiful thing).
That’s why on August 15th I will be in line wearing my black beret and airplane bottle bandolier, ready to check out from reality for 2 hours. I won’t learn anything. I’m not going to gain any deep insight into the nature of humanity. But boy oh boy am I gonna have fun. Let the explosions commence.