Remove all expectations. The Hangover Part III is not the movie you expect.
After an explosive first movie, and a disappointing retread of the same formula (that is unsurprisingly ignored throughout Part III), the Wolfpack returns for its grand finale. This bittersweet conclusion brings with it a mash-up of genres and tone, while avoiding the use of an actual Hangover to drive the plot. It brings a significant amount of change to the formula, which many critics have not been comfortable with.
If you are to view the general consensus, critics have not been the biggest supporters of this change to say the least (average Metacritic score of 38). But while I can understand their problems with this complete departure from their original formula, this is an issue of perception rather than with the film itself.
Don't get this twisted. It doesn't mean the critics are wrong in the complaints they express. The story returns to Las Vegas: following Alan (Zach Galifianakis) facing his own lack of sense of purpose after his father's death, Doug (Justin Bartha) gets kidnapped (again), and the other three must retrieve a ransom to save him from certain death.
Simply put, with the undercurrent of a gangster thriller, it has evolved into something more formulaic than Part II's lazy retread. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug are not utilised enough, reduced to mouth pieces of exposition. The escapades of Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) begin to grate, and Alan's storyline leads him to have only two comical moments.
And to top it all off, the only actual Hangover-esque scene of the film occurs halfway through Part III's credits, reminding you of just how inferior this is in comparison to the original. It's not a great setup for those expecting a great return to form for the wolfpack; but again, this is a problem of perception.
Firstly, it must be said, this is a visually beautiful film. The city of sin has been captured with a keen eye for detail, as scenes are captured in such a visually engaging fashion, it's hard to look away. Mix this with a fitting soundtrack, and you have a strong visual and audio blend for your delectation. But this is not the difficulty people have with this.
Abandon expectations of seeing a Hangover film, and what you're in for is an odd mixture of part-thriller, part-dark humour. The story progresses at a steady rate, set pieces unfold in ways you don't expect at times, and the uncomfortability of situations make for some pretty hilarious moments of an awkward nature.
It's not a masterpiece by any standard; but it still is an entertaining film, if you step back and look at the bigger picture. It's not a Hangover movie; but it works without the shackles. 7/10
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.