There are three things that audiences should expect from an Expendables movie — explosions, banter and plenty of wrinkles. After the success of the first two movies, Sylvester Stallone closes out the franchise (I think), with even more aging action heroes and introduces a breed of new ones to pass the torch to. At first, I thought that going for a third movie was pushing it but Ol’ Rocky seemed to have the trilogy plotted out in his mind from the beginning so it managed to sustain the momentum of its predecessors and deliver on the franchise’s reputation fairly well. Basically, it was a great action flick.
Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team of Expendables are hired by the CIA once again to take down and bring in notorious arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who also happensto be a part of Barney’s original group of Expendables from way way back. When their first attempt to stop Stonebanks fails and a member of the team is severely injured, Barney feels responsible and cuts out the rest of his team for the follow up mission. He enlists newer, younger members of the team to end his nemesis but when things go wrong, he learns that his gang is the best chance he has in completing the mission after all.
The story of the third Expendables movie was pretty simple. It seemed like a big excuse to get more action legends into the franchise but you don’t really see an Expendables movie for the story. As usual, it was full of banter, a lot of pokes at Bruce Willis’s character Church (because it was no secret that Sly and Bruce had a falling out because of Willis’s refusal to work three days on set for less than $3 million).It was really funny especially for the audiences who know the story.
Harrison Ford did a pretty good job filling in for Willis as Drummer, the new CIA liaison. There were also a lot of cool additions to the cast — the younger ones Kellan Lutz as John Smilee, an ex-Navy Seal; Glen Powell as the adventurous hacker Thorn, and boxer Victor Ortiz as the sharpshooter Mars. UFC undefeated women’s champ Ronda Rousey also brought her legendary mean face to the movie. Her action scenes were so smooth and cool they were like butter. For the older set, Wesley Snipes made his movie comeback as Doctor Death, and there were a lot of jokes him being incarcerated for failing to file his income tax returns, which was super funny because it was true. Kelsey Grammer also had a small non action-y part but it was Antonio Banderas and Mel Gibson who truly stole the show.
Banderas played the ever-talkative, overeager former mercenary Galgo, and it was just pure entertainment to see his antics. His character’s personality was so likable and funny, which is really a great foil to the testosterone level in the movie. It was like having Puss in Boots in the movie, especially listening to him gabbing away. Mel Gibson, on the other hand is, and forever will be an exceptional actor. His years laying low has not diminished his intensity and he was perfect to play the main villain in this piece. He just nailed it, plain and simple. His approach was so different to Van Damme in the second movie but there was just an understated conviction in the way he played the Expendable who turned dark. It was great.
The mainstays seemed happy to take a backseat to the new guys and seemed to be just enjoying the ride, delivering pound for pound action at the same level as the previous movies. Of course there were cheesy scenes and some attempt at drama. This is a Sylvester Stallone movie, after all. But these were all offset by the amount of stunts, explosions and action that is the trademark of the franchise.
What I really liked about The Expendables was the fact that its an ensemble movie and each member of the cast recognized the fact.
Everybody understood that they’re playing for the same team and they worked together (much like the Expendables) to deliver movies that entertained and reminded the audience why these aging action stars became icons of the genre. The Expendables 3 banked on this and was not afraid to to crack jokes (sometimes indecipherable due to Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s accents) at the aspects that people criticize them for (their age, mostly). It was also not afraid to welcome new blood into the gang.
All in all, the third installment was less banter-y than the second one, which was overflowing with cliches but on all respects, it was like 21 Jump Street — it was the exact same movie and delivered the exact same punch as its predecessors. And it was just as fun and entertaining as the first two installments. A definite must watch for action afficionados.