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The Expendables 3
  • Composed by Brian Tyler
  • La-La Land Records (USA) / Silva Screen (Europe) / 2014 / 60m

Sylvester Stallone and chums are back for a third trip to the Expendables well.  The nostalgia-fuelled success of this vehicle for ageing action stars shows no sign of letting up; along with the big man himself, returning from the previous ones are Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren  and Arnold Schwarzenegger and joining the fun are Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and the action hero to end all action heroes, Kelsey Grammer, whose perfectly-timed quips can kill a man from a hundred paces.

Also returning is action composer extraordinaire Brian Tyler, whose muscular scores for the previous two were huge fun.  He’s broadened the palette a little bit this time, adding a slightly more modern sound (electronics feature more heavily alongside the orchestra this time round, particularly in the score’s earlier moments) along with a few nice little ethnic touches.  “The Drop” begins the score very much as a modern action thriller, a heavily electronic sound; “Lament” is a surprisingly beautiful little interlude with a lovely guitar solo; then it’s flat-out action in the heavily percussive “Right On Time”, very entertaining.

Brian Tyler and Sylvester Stallone

Brian Tyler and Sylvester Stallone

“The Art of War” is only a minute long but leaves quite an impression, thanks to it being so wholly unexpected, an elegant classical piano solo oozing class.  The action’s soon back though: “Stonebanks Lives” features some Japanese winds and a lovely passage for strings before exploding into life, the trademark Tyler string runs, brassy flourishes and percussion; yes, we’ve heard it before but it’s such an entertaining sound, orchestrated to the hilt as ever.  Also as usual, there’s a solid motivic heart to the action music and it’s fun to hear them all crop up in various guises through the album.  It’s great to hear the Goldsmithian fanfare from the two previous scores make its return in this track too.

“Late For War” is a great cue, positively dripping with sweat as it goes through what sounds like a musical version of preparing for conflict; then in the next few cues comes the calm before the storm, “Bring You Luck” particularly impressive as the tension slowly mounts before being released in explosive style in “Infiltrating the Block”, the orchestra being put through its paces in furious fashion.  There’s a delightful little vignette, “Galgo’s Grand Entrance”, complete with mariachi trumpet, before we’re back into full-on action in the pulse-pounding “Look Alive”, with a great John Powell/Bourne-style string motif appearing in the middle and then being expanded Tyler-style into decidedly fast and furious territory.

After a sustained period of frankly not a great deal, things do wake up with a sudden for the album’s last three cues – “Valet Parking Done Right” is a rip-roaring cue, “Moral Chess Games” then brings back the electronic sound heard earlier in the score and the best cue of all is saved for last, the spectacular six-minute “Armoured Freaking Transport” making great use of the familiar main theme.  The Expandables 3 is an enjoyable album, but it does feature some less interesting passages and (understandably) some of the better parts are very similar to those heard in the previous scores.  It’s all good fun, though perhaps not quite as much as the last ones.

Rating: ***

See also:
The Expendables Brian Tyler
The Expendables 2 Brian Tyler | |

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  1. Thomas Glorieux (Reply) on Wednesday 13 August, 2014 at 20:24

    Honestly James, you’re hearing a lot more in it than I have.

    What I heard is the exact same action music as I’ve heard in dozen of other Tyler soundtracks. Yes still very exciting but now overtly predictable if you’re searching for something new.

    Plus, I found it at times extremely forgettable during the moodier pieces too. Bah average and basically a rehash of the first 2