Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammar, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz with Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Plot: A routine mission turns into a nightmare when an ex-Expendable, Stonebanks (Gibson) returns from the dead and tears apart the team.
Right up until the very end of the third Expendables film, no one is quite sure if they have just watched a good film or a bad film.
The Expendables 3’s main problem is that the second the action dies down, we are treated to some truly awful film-making. The story makes little sense (a couple of action movie tropes tied together, despite conflicting with each other), and the dialogue is hit and miss, depending on how well versed you are with the action heroes in question. This movie is a lot slower than the other two and this is what will probably be classed as the movie’s downfall. After two pulse-pounding action sequences that introduce us to Wesley Snipes’ cagey medic and the villain of the piece, Mel Gibson on fine form, we are stuck in firm exposition territory. Barney Ross disbands his team, worried that he is leading them all to their deaths, and recruits a new team, made up of younger faces. We spend the next half hour, without a single bad guy being killed, as Stallone works his way through new faces and some jokes that don’t hit home as well as you feel the writers expected them to. There is also a lot more emotional tones in this film. As Barney hires new faces, Statham, Snipes, Lundgren and Couture are lost in civilian life, unsure where to take their lives. This doesn’t work, as no one is quite sure how to bring emotional gravity to the movie. It partially needs more time spent on this story arc, but at the same time, no one wants to spend more time with some old action heroes moping about the good, old days. All we want is some kick-ass fighting.
I know this is a common Expendables complaint, but with this third film, there really are too many faces in the team. Only a handful of the stars get the fighting they deserve, especially considering my original point of the action being faded out for more emotionally scenes. I don’t mind the older stars having less to do, because, to a certain extent, we all know who they are. The new characters don’t have the fame to back up their appearances in the film. For example, Jason Statham plays Jason Statham and Arnie plays Arnie. That is fine, because that is the whole point in the movie. However, then you bring in Kellan Lutz and no one is too sure who he is. We are given half a character and he never makes a worthy impact on the plot. Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture are background characters, never really doing anything to affect the plot. They become a buddy team that are always causing havoc on the outskirts of the battle, while every other character helps themselves to the meatier chunks of fun. At least, the new ‘oldies’, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes cannot complain as they are given so much action to do that they almost steal the show from the regular stars.
However, the strange thing about the Expendables 3 is that the second the guns start firing, you immediately forget everything bad about it. This series might be terrible at a lot of things, but you cannot accuse it of below-par punch-ups. The stunts and realistic choreography are always brutal. Antonio Banderas jumping from building to building. Ronda Rousey wrestling someone to the floor, via a table. The shudder vibrating through the cinema when Terry Crews starts firing his mini-gun. It is hard-core action to the very end and is exactly what everyone turned up for. Sure, some of the fights rely too much on close-ups which aren’t ideal and while the final half hour of this film is non-stop adrenaline, the wait to get to this point would have put off the not-so patient. If we are willing to put down the first Expendable’s failures to trial and error, this would make Expendables 3 the weakest in the franchise. But as a dependable action with little to hide, it does the job.
Man of the match? Antonio Banderas, easily.
Final Verdict: The moment the action stops, there isn’t much to like about Expendables 3, but when the action kicks off again, it transforms into the best thing in the world. Shaky, but the fans will still love it.