The Expendables 3 (2014)

The Expendables 3In need of a medic and a fifth member, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) mount a daring mission to extract Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes) from military prison. They soon cross paths with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), the team’s co-founder turned arms dealer, who once betrayed Ross and left the rest of his team for dead. Reluctant to lose any more friends to the man, Barney recruits a new team of rookies (Kellan Lutz; Ronda Rousey; Glen Powell; Victor Ortiz) only for his plan to fail and the youngsters to be captured by Stonebanks. He has no option but to put the old team back together and go after them.

Throw in Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, Jet Li and Terry Crews and you have the series’ most diverse cast yet. Faced with rounding off his trilogy and outdoing the two previous instalments, Stallone — who once again holds a story credit — has amassed not only some of the most kick-ass action stars in cinema history, but some of the best actors too. Given that it’s his third time around the block (this particular block, anyway) it’s impossible to see how The Expendables 3 could be anything but the best one yet.

Sadly, the film is anything but. Patrick Hughes, Stallone’s “new blood”, who has taken over directing duties from Simon West (who in turn took over from Stallone himself), doesn’t seem to have any visible grasp on the story, characters or tone of his film. It’s not entirely his fault — the decisions to rely on CGI, pander to a younger audience and overcrowd the cast were all likely out of his hands — but he’s got to be at least partly responsible for the failure of the action, jokes and emotional beats to have any sort of identifiable impact. With the exception of one gag (“I’m the knife before Christmas”) the film is essentially a laugh-free zone.

As for the story, the less said the better. The Expendables 3 is a trilogy in itself, basically repeating the same narrative with three separate but indistinct generations of the team. You’ve got the two founders, a member of the first team, the cast of first and second movie, the new recruits and a new-new line-up that consists solely of Antonio Banderas — or rather archive footage of Antonio Banderas’ outtakes on Shrek The Third. The film is little more than a single looped sequence involving a seemingly endless cycle of captures and rescues.

Not even the cast can save it, with every newcomer bar perhaps Mel Gibson failing to make a mark. Wesley Snipes is clearly out of practice, Kelsey Grammer is still in Transformers mode, and Harrison Ford looks like he might genuinely kill someone. Oritz doesn’t even get a role, Rousey barely gets a character, Lutz is so forgettable that you’re never entirely sure he’s been introduced yet, and Banderas is just plain embarrassing. Of the returnees, Crews is by far the most entertaining and he spends almost the entire film in a coma.

By skewing young, updating the effects and playing it straight the filmmakers have left the Expendables feeling a bit, well, expendable. The Expendables 3 is confused, lethargic and just a little bit sad. It seems strangely apt that the film was leaked online, undermining its box office performance: Stallone and co are outmoded, both on screen and off.

2-stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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