What do you really say about a movie that is intended purely for entertainment? It entertained. It isn’t brilliant, but neither were the the first two. It has a few truly great stunt gags, and a bevy of old and new faces to provide some side games of “spot the actor.”
What is wrong with this installment is what was wrong with the others: almost no story and lousy timing. On the story front, Stallone (Escape Plan) did attempt to have some more structure. But the humor is still at such a throwaway pace that you miss a lot, and what you do catch you never really get to acknowledge. I understand the pacing they were going for, but comedy requires changes in pacing to work, otherwise you just get numb to it. I will admit, though, that Banderas’ (Automata) live-action Puss in Boots manage to survive that issue well. Snipes (Blade) got to have a bit of fun also.
What they did better this round was a bit of casting and one wild throw to keep the series alive. On the first front, Gibson (The Beaver) really delivered a good Big Bad for the film. He had levels and even some subtlety to him. Sure it is a bit cookie cutter, but he felt more real than just about any other actor on screen. On the other front, bringing in a younger crew was blatantly calculating to broaden appeal, and not even well structured into the story. They all hold their own about as well as anyone in the flick. However, the very end of the film, they push the point with a musical queue that will either make you smile or make you grimace, depending on how you felt about the previous couple hours.
Overall, this is probably better than the previous films in the series, but that isn’t saying much. It is pure popcorn and little else. If you have time you need to fill and enjoy the action genre, you could do worse, and that’s about as enthusiastic as I can get for the results. Given it was Hughes (Red Hill) first big-budget outing as director, he managed to keep all the pieces together and rolling. Whether that will serve him as he tackles the upcoming English-language remake of The Raid, who knows? As to this offering, it is entirely up to you how you want to spend two hours of your evening.