The Expendables 3: Movie Review
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren
Director: Patrick Hughes
Once more unto the breach for these ageing OAPs of the action franchise with the latest outing of The Expendables (or as one wag's coined them - Stallone's geri-action franchise)
This time around, Stallone's Barney finds the mission's a little too personal when the man he co-founded The Expendables with, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) comes back from the dead and is threatening the team.
Deciding not to put the risk on the shoulders of the old timers after one of their own is mowed down by Stonebanks, Barney recruits a newer younger bunch of Expendables to take him on...
Pitching itself as a new vs old installment would have been a great idea were there not so much bloated weight in this; excruciatingly long, The Expendables 3 is a turgidly slow action "thriller" that's lost some of its bite as it dials down the violence to achieve a wider reaching bloodless PG13 rating.
Half the problem is that Stallone, who wrote the piece, seems to have forgotten that the vicarious fun of this franchise is seeing all the old timers from the 80s back in action and kicking some ass, while touting some very big guns. Unwisely, he decides to sideline them for a bunch of newbies who would dearly benefit from a large dose of charisma that's sorely lacking when they head into the picture and are ultimately unmemorable for any future outings. (To be fair, though, the film introduces its first Expenda-belle, Luna played by UFC stalwart Ronda Rousey whose acting is laugha-belle, so clearly there's that side of the franchise about to expand)
But with far too many names on screen, the film becomes bogged down in its own self mocking and terminally unfunny banter (a dig at Wesley Snipes' internment for tax evasion, Stallone's stroke, how their plan to shoot everything was great if it were 1985) and almost cripples itself as it heads limply to a crowd-pleasing conclusion that's chock full of as much action as it is fraught with plotholes. (Most won't care though in the middle of all the guns being fired, exploding masonry and slow mo death defying running)
Mel Gibson is clearly still cinematically atoning for his rather public Hollywood sins, and is now destined to play bad guys (first Machete Kills, now this) but relishes the time he has in the spotlight as Stonebanks and at least brings the energy levels up; Antonio Banderas, by contrast goes too far the other way - he's brought into the fold as a babbling live action version of Puss in Boots; Harrison Ford steps gruffly into the vacated position once occupied by Bruce Willis' Church (who's been retired, ho ho). Snipes makes a memorable entrance in a pre-credits piece, suggesting his importance to the team but is largely sidelined thereafter, and some members of the old team barely register chalking up moments designed to see the crowd fist pumping but which end up hardly mustering any bluster as the film plods on and on.
Sure, the old adage of you can leave the team but the team never leaves you can be seen a mile off, but it's really only when the old gang head back into the fray that the chemistry once again clicks into place after nigh on 100 minutes of relatively flat delivery and relatively pointless detours.
While The Expendables 3 does deliver in the action stakes in its final set piece in an abandoned building in the region of Azmenistan, the thrills are too long coming in this over long, undercooked, stuffed-to-the-gills, totally unessential and utterly expendable mess of a threequel.