WRITTEN BY: Sylvester Stallone
DIRECTED BY: Patrick Hughes
STARRING: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Kellan Lutz, Arnold Schwarzenegger
RATING: 3 stars
At this point, you are either a fan of the Expendables franchise and will see it regardless of what any reviewer has to say, or this third installment will not even register on your film-watching radar. That being said, if I can tell you two things about this film that might matter to you it is this: firstly, there is not anywhere near as much violence as we have seen in the other films, although there are a lot of people getting shot and blown up; and secondly, the new cast members added to this film are mostly enjoyable to watch. Ultimately, while the plot is weak, there is still a lot of fun to be had with The Expendables 3.
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his team of mercenaries are on a mission when they discover the arms dealer they are pursuing is Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), Barney's Expendables co-founder who he thought he had killed years ago. Barney gathers a new team to help him catch Stonebanks, but when the young crew are captured, it is up to the old heroes to save them.
Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li, who has a tiny role, give the audience exactly what they expect from them. The rest of the old team are also still around including Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews, who are all solid. There are also new faces including Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey and Glen Powell who, aside from Lutz, are perhaps not quite as convincing or interesting.
Kelsey Grammer has a small role helping Barney recruit his new team and is a welcome addition. Harrison Ford is a good replacement for Bruce Willis who was apparently dumped because he wanted too much money. Wesley Snipes is given a lot of focus, particularly early in the film. Antonio Banderas is like a hilarious cross between Puss in Boots and Donkey from the Shrek franchise. But it is Gibson who really impresses as the villain. He may not be as muscular as Stallone, but he is still convincing as a tough guy and also has the suave arrogance needed for the role. With all his real life controversies, it is easy to forget that Gibson is actually a fantastic actor, and he shows his abilities in this film by not appearing to be in any way cringe-worthy with his delivery of one-liners like his co-stars.
I am not even sure I understand what the point of The Expendables 3 plot was, but it hardly seems to matter. I laughed out loud a few times and still enjoyed seeing a group of older action stars share the screen together. That novelty has not yet worn off.