The 400-Word-Review: The Expendables 3

By Sean Collier

August 18, 2014

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We’re now five years and three films into the Expendables franchise, which strings together nominally impressive cast lists with some stock footage of explosions to fool rubes into parting with their money.

Too mean? Sorry.

Let’s try it from the top: as Sylvester Stallone approaches his dotage, he’s taken the time to craft a bewilderingly popular film series for his other aged buddies to cash in on.

Wait, that wasn’t any nicer. I just can’t seem to find a way to be respectful when it comes to this garbage. The franchise is undoubtedly a throwback to a bygone era. One just wishes someone would’ve pointed out that most of that era’s films were awful.

In The Expendables 3, Stallone (not using any character names, because they’re all terrible puns like “Hale Caesar”) and three of his returning buddies — Jason Statham, Randy Couture and Dolph Lundgren — bust new addition Wesley Snipes out of a Russian prison transport train (which eventually blows up a prison somehow). On the way home, they make a quick stop to foil a drug trade in Somalia, but wait! The kingpin in question is the heretofore unmentioned Mel Gibson, who we learn was an Expendable until he and Stallone had a violent difference of opinion.

Anyway, Gibson shoots Terry Crews (who wandered into the movie at about the 15-minute mark), Stallone dumps his old folks for some young folks — Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz and two people even less famous than them — and goes after Mel.

Also, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Kelsey Grammer, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford all turn up for a while.

Among that laundry list of decreasingly marketable names, only Gibson, Schwarzenegger and Banderas have enough self-awareness to ham it up in an enjoyable way. The rest play things relatively straight, lending a serious air to a movie desperately in need of more levity. Overlong scenes of exposition serve only to interrupt the rote-yet-hypnotic action sequences that are the series’ only reason for existing.


And even those drag on, for the most part; with the exception of some impressive acrobatics and a few moments of hand-to-hand brilliance in the overlong climax, the vast majority of the violence in Expendables 3 is of the unremarkable guns-and-tanks-and-fireballs variety. Stallone seems to think that this type of film simply fell out of favor; what he doesn’t realize is that it wore out its welcome.

My Rating: 3/10



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