Directed By: Patrick Hughes
Written By: Karl Gajdusek
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford , Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Expendables 3 is not your father’s action movie. Well, actually it probably is your father’s action movie. When you are on the third film of a franchise like the Expendables there is little doubt on what it will entail. Many have enjoyed the throwback nature of this series, and how it has made many 80’s children’s dreams come true by placing the biggest action icons into one movie. Even though many are past their prime there is still a basic novelty factor that is hard not to enjoy on a certain level.
Personally that novelty can only take me so far as I have found these films rather uninspired. Perhaps it’s a lack of nostalgia for over the top 80’s action that has hindered my enjoyment, or perhaps it’s the characterless action and the void of originality. Whatever the case, even some interesting new additions are not enough to make it more than a generic action movie with expensive parts.
Most of the past Expendables have returned. Jason Staham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and of course the ring leader of all this Sylvester Stallone are all back for another round. There is a level of comradery with these actors and the fun they have making the movie is certainly displayed on screen. Some of the new additions meld right in to that chemistry. Wesley Snipes, fresh from his stint in tax jail, makes his introduction in this franchise as a previous Expandable that was captured after a blundered assignation attempt.
The film opens with his daring rescue as the current team saves him from a speeding train fill to the brim with enemy combatants and high powered artillery. This sequence starts the film off on strong footing as it is well executed and goes into some unexpected directions. Unfortunately the action never quite reaches that level again as it gives more of the same again, again, and again.
Snipes does his best to add some new life, and as a fan of his it is a treat to see him back in his action form. Unlike many of the Expendables throwaway members he actually has some acting talent along with his fighting skills. He may not be at the top of his game, no matter how many stunt doubles they use to make you think that he is, but he still has a welcomed spirit that brings some much needed energy. If anything he was not utilize nearly enough. There was potential for an interesting rivalry between Staham and Snipes as they attempt to best each other with their knife skills. That potential goes away as quickly as it’s established when the old Expendables are tossed aside for a new and younger brand.
During an attempt to stop an arms deal Barney Ross (Stallone) discovers his once former partner is not nearly as dead as he thought he was. Mel Gibson plays Congrad Stonebanks the once founding member of the Expendables turned illegal arms dealer. Gibson’s fall from Hollywood’s grace has been well documented—sometimes accidentally by him. Whatever you think of him personally he is one of the best aspects of Expendables 3. He embraces the evil role and decides to have a lot of fun with his persona.
Once Ross learns his once friend now bitter rival is alive he will stop at nothing to bring him down. Not wishing to risk the lives of his aging comrades he enlists f a new team of up and comers with the help of his mercenary talent scout Bonaparte played by Kesley Grammer.
Obviously the decision to bring in some new kids on the block was more than just a plot choice—Stallone’s not too subtle way to show he’s not afraid of the present but still feel it pales in comparison to the way things used to be. He has just yet to be able to prove that statement. Choosing not to evolve, but stay with the same old same old.
Many of the new old faces work. Kesley Grammer is surprising;y intriguing as this de facto talent scout. His montage of bringing the new team together was an unexpected treat. Harison Ford brought some gristle and gravitas to a role Bruce Willis simply walked through in the previous two films. Antonio Banderas as an over eager agent who talks too much while at annoying at times is one of the few instances this franchise was successful at establishing some levity.
On the other hand, all the new faces that are added are increasing levels of awful. This infusion of young blood was a cavalcade of generic characters portrayed by actors with decreasing levels of charisma. Mixed Martial Arts star Ronda Rousey displays her intense fighting ability, but also shows knowing how to fight in real life does not mean you have the ability to be an action star. Kellan Lutz continues to demonstrate his attempt to breakout is only hindered by his utter lack of being interesting. These new additions are little more than cannon fodder designed to provide our old school heroes something to rescue.
There is no one walking into The Expendables 3 anxiously awaiting the appearance of Kellan Lutz—probably not even Kellan Lutz. Fans want explosions, machine guns, fist fights, one liners, and muscle bound bravado so huge it nearly implodes on screen. If you find Arnold Schwarzenegger awkwardly saying, “GET TO THE CHOPPER!” funny and not depressing The Expendables 3 is the movie for you. This may be my favorite installment of this franchise, yet I still find it takes it self far too seriously and never legitimizes its lack of believability with any type of imagination. It’s a franchise more concerned with the names on the poster than the movie on the screen.