Movie Review: The Expendables 3

EX3-PosterThe Expendables 3 (2014)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes

Directed By: Patrick Hughes

MILD SPOILERS

I’ll admit it; my hopes weren’t very high for Expendables 3. I’m a pretty big fan of Stallone, Arnold, and Statham movies in a “these are so ridiculous that I love them” way, but as much fun as the Expendables series is, they’ve always left me wanting just a little bit more. Plus, to add insult to injury, this entry in the series was committing a cardinal sin and receiving a PG-13 rating, an act that almost made me not see it in theaters (seriously, my twitter rant about it is easy to find).

However, the pull of Arnold, Sly, and of course Harrison Ford was too strong to resist. And you know what, of the three films, this is the movie that lives up to the Expendables promise the most. Despite the toned down violence, weak acting from the “young guns”, and some wonky CGI here and there, Expendables 3 is a lot of fun, especially if you see it with the right audience.

The plot of this third entry is essentially a mix of the last two: Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team of mercenaries (which includes Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and more) are tasked by a new government agent (Harrison Ford, who actually seems to be enjoying himself) to track down Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former Expendable who’s now gone rogue, taken over a small army, and is selling weapons on the black market. After a mission goes bad and nearly kills one of the team, Ross decides to disband the current team and get a batch of new, younger members, which includes Twilight’s Kellan Lutz and MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.

Honestly, the younger Expendables are the weakest part of the film, and the entire second act that focuses on them drags on for way too long. None of them are particularly interesting, but that may be because we don’t have a connection to them like we do with Sly, Arnie, and the rest of the Expendables gang. Of the four, Rousey fares the best. Her fight scene in the finale is awesome, even if her acting skills aren’t great. The hacker of the team, played by Glen Powell, is also a lot of fun, despite only being a behind the scenes guy.

Despite this misstep, there’s still a lot to enjoy in Expendables 3, and much of it comes from three action stars that we haven’t seen in a long time: Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, and Mel Gibson. Snipes is the first new member we met, and the opening sequence where Sly and Co. bust him out of a prison transport is one of the best of the movie. Snipes is an absolute blast to watch on screen. You can tell he’s missed being in movies, and his manic performance as Doc is a ton of fun. Also having a lot of fun is Antonio Banderas as Galgo, a mercenary who’s desperate to join the Expendables. He and Stallone have great chemistry together, and like Rousey, Banderas also has an incredible action sequence at the end of the film.

The real stand out though is Mel Gibson. As Conrad Stonebanks (which might be the best villain name in the series, after JCVD’s Jean Vilain) he chews up the scenery with manic glee, and gives some incredible bite to his monologues about death and what it means to be a mercenary. There’s a convincing amount of venom behind his words, and the scene where he’s kidnapped by Ross and the young Expendables is fantastic, simply because of Gibson. He could’ve phoned this performance in, but he ends up being the best thing about the whole movie. He’s so good that it makes me mad that his personal life is such a mess, and that Hollywood has pretty much written him off. The only downside is the fight between him and Stallone, which starts off fantastic, but is over way too soon.

That problem, which has affected all of the Expendables movies, is still here. Many great moments are over far too soon, and when compared to modern action classics like The Raid, or even Fast And Furious 6, there’s not a whole lot of stand out action moments. Plus, with so many action stars, it’s expected that some of them have to take a back seat for some of the new members (sorry, Terry Crews). While Jet Li and Jason Statham barely have much to do in this film, but the trade off is a lot of cool moments for Banderas, Snipes, and especially Harrison Ford. At times the dialogue can be too jokey (at one point, Ford’s Agent Drummer says that Church, formerly played by Bruce Willis, is now “out of the picture), but Expendables 3 is not a movie that’s going to be bringing home any Oscars.

Director Patrick Hughes doesn’t do anything all that new or interesting with the franchise, which, let’s face it, is under the control of Stallone. I was surprised to see that the PG-13 rating actually doesn’t affect the final product too much. Yeah, they cut away at the last minute from any stabbings, and bad guys fall to the ground when shot, but it’s nothing that completely ruins the movie, and we’re guaranteed to see a director’s cut at some point.

Basically, Expendables 3 boils down to this: Do you want to see Han Solo fly a helicopter while the Terminator fires a massive machine gun at nameless goons from the side of it? If you answered “yes’, then see this movie. Do you love Desperado, Demolition Man, or Lethal Weapon, either ironically or unironically? Then see this movie. Yes, the dialogue isn’t great, the CGI at times is REALLY bad (the green screen behind Stallone and Kelsey Grammar driving is the low point), but these films are never trying to be anything more than they present themselves to be: a bunch of older action stars reliving their former glory. Expendables 3 juggles a lot of characters, and some get lost in the fold, but the sheer fact that this many actors were signed on for this one film is pretty awesome.

Now get Nicolas Cage, Clint Eastwood, and The Rock for Expendables 4.

VERDICT: B

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Posted on August 16, 2014, in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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