Back in 2010 when Stallone first launched The Expendables, it was supposed to be a one off nostalgia trip with all of our favorite has-been action stars back for one last ride. Little did we know this was the beginning of a resurgence for Stallone’s career that would eventually lead to a slew of new 80s style action movies and two more Expendables films. The premise of all our old favorites coming together for one last job is still enticing, but after two less than compelling outings does the idea have any real juice left or is this just another piece of expendable filmmaking?
The Expendables gang returns lead by Barney(Sylvester Stallone) and his longtime partner Christmas(Jason Statham) as they rescue Doc(Wesley Snipes) before taking on another deadly black ops mission. Gunner(Dolph Lundgren), Toll(Randy Couture), and Caesar(Terry Crews) all return to help Barney take down his top secret target. Everything is going off without a hitch until Barney realizes their man is Stonebanks(Mel Gibson), one of the original Expendables thought dead. After the mission goes wry, Barney decides to sever tithes with the old gang in favor of a younger group he’s less attached to. As the mission gets bigger and deadlier, Barney is joined by CIA specialist Drummer(Harrison Ford), his old rival Trench(Arnold Schwarzenegger), new guy Galgo(Antonio Banderas), and his old friend Yin Yang(Jet Li).
Fans of the first two films are going to feel right at home with The Expendables 3 thanks to the obscenely ridiculous action set pieces, cheesy attempts at character development, and fun bits of self depreciated humor. The story is dumb, full of gaping plot holes, and the villain is about as stereotypically evil as they come. It’s essentially more of the same which may or may not be a bad thing depending on how you feel about Stallone’s new style.
The action in this film has its moments that impress especially when it comes to gun fighting and the climatic battle against the entire Asmanistanian army(because Mel Gibson can apparently afford his own country). The Expendables 3 offers some really fun spectacle that falls very much in line with the first two films, but I actually found that the hand to hand fights were lacking the passionate energy and exceptional choreography seen in earlier entries. The final mano-e-mano duel between Stallone and Gibson lacks the oomph or edginess that other actors like Van Damme brought to the table. It may know how to blow stuff up and pull off insane vehicular stunts, but The Expendables 3 falls just a bit short when it comes to good old fashioned fist fighting.
The Expendables 3 has an all star cast so big that even the smaller bit roles are filled by actors with a legendary pedigree. This sounds great in theory, but Stallone often bites off more than he can chew as he attempts to give every big name actor a moment to share their own character history. This works really well for actors like Kelsey Grammer who pop in just long enough to allude to his back story, but other actors like Antonio Banderas have an entire scene dedicated to explaining his tragedy. Many of these scenes feel totally irrelevant to what’s going on and really don’t do much to round out the characters or why they are such an important member of the team.
Stallone’s script is predictably terrible, but he sneaks in just enough quick quips and self depreciating jabs between all of the characters to make for some fun winks at the camera. I’ll still never quite wrap my head around what brings all these guys together, especially when the surviving to dead expendables ratio is apparently very low. In reality, character motivations don’t matter at all; it’s seeing all of these Schwarzenegger sized egos working together on screen that drives the film. Despite the fact that this may be the definition of a paint by the numbers action movie, these guys all look like they are having a ton of fun with the admittedly awful script.
The Expendables 3 isn’t anything particularly special but it does have enough thrills and self referential jokes to make for a fun time. Even though I couldn’t shake the feeling that an action team up of this magnitude should be better, I still enjoyed getting to see all of these legends come together to cap off the 2014 summer blockbuster season. This is actually about as generic as action movies get, but if you’re a fan of the cast, this is easily worth the price of a matinee ticket.
This has to be one of the most generic plots out there. “The bad guy is actually an old friend gone sour and now Barney must bring together the team to keep him from committing nameless acts of evil”.
These characters are pretty flat despite the fact that Stallone tries really hard to give them all interesting back stories. Where it fails with substance, it makes up with style and charisma thanks to the confident charm put off by each member of the cast. We may never see more giant testosterone filled egos together on the big screen again….until The Expendables 4(you know Stallone is already planning it).
This movie looks like an old school action movie through and through. It uses the choppy editing and quick cuts of an era long gone to great success. The big set pieces are exciting and usually impressive although the hand to hand combat is lacking the energy of past film.
Overall Effectiveness of the Film: 5.0
You would think a movie with all of these legends coming together would be more memorable, but part three is honestly just as samey as parts 1 and 2 and I’m sure they’ll all blur together in my memory down the road. If this film starred a bunch of no names, it would likely be one of the most forgettable films out there. Luckily the star power makes for something a little more exciting.
Overall Score: 5.5
Original post can be found at Renegade Cinema