Back for a third time, the mercenary squad led by Sylvester Stallone prepares to take on the american action genre one more time. Since 2010 the goal has been to somehow rekindle the magic of action films of the 1980s. From Rambo to Terminator and every shoot ‘em up movie in between, The Expendables 3 works its butt off to make your brain hazy with nostalgia. It tries, but the real question is does it succeed. The simple answer is NO. There are many movies that lack plot and substance and suffer tremendously for it. Luckily, The Expendables 3 doesn’t suffer from a lack of plot, but rather an abundance of it. Overly saturated with team building moments and poorly constructed plot points so heavy handed you want to cry out “WE GET IT!!! NOW GO SHOOT SOMEONE!!!!” Never in the history of meathead action movie franchises, which I love, has their been a cast who just isn’t in on the joke. The entirety of the movie, sans the last 40 minutes, is largely a poor man’s version of a Tom Clancy film. Working to give unneeded exposition to make a “fuller” film, writers Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, and Sylvester Stallone waste vast amounts of the viewer’s time. We all know why we are here, and its not for the heart and mental conflict of the characters. We signed up to see Rambo, The Terminator, and their buddies blow things up...a lot!
The general format of The Expendables movies have been largely the same, and this third installment doesn’t break from that mold. The team goes on a mission and realize another conflict has arisen from another character who is pretty much the definition of an Expendable himself. In this case, its Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks. A founding member of The Expendables, he is matched against Stallone’s persona from the start. Stonebanks hates the Expendables and wants them all dead. Simple enough, now get to the shooting. No wait, lets shoehorn some other garbage in to make it feel more like a movie first: CIA managers, 5 new team members who are introduced so slowly over the course of 30 minutes you begin to check your watch. When Stallone has to retire his old team we are treated to what should have been a montage of a new team assembly scene, but alas it was just painful. The montage is the staple of these types of movies and here is yet another missed opportunity. Not until the last 40 minutes do we find our heroes where they live best, the battlefield. For that last section of the film, its the closest thing to what the entire film series should have been to date. Tanks, failing buildings, and dirt bike stunts are all here and this is all I ever wanted. For the first time the series felt, in those moments, like it was self aware. Just about every moment prior to it we suffered through clunky dialogue by an ensemble cast of non-actors. The two truly talented actors in the movie, Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas, were the absolute highlights. Gibson was an over the top villain in the perfect way, besting any of the bad guys from the previous two entries. Banderas was the perfect amount of comic relief. Unlike the rest of the cast, these two aren’t completely washed up. Honorable mention goes to Wesley Snipes, and his return to the big screen. He had a couple of cool moments but this is a poor return for him; he deserved better.
There really isn’t much of a reason to see this movie. Its a violent, yet completely bloodless, movie with a PG-13 rating to reach a younger audience. Well, I hope it reaches them because it missed me by a mile. As a lover of over the top poorly acted muscle bound action movies of the 1980s this fails at one major point...TOO MUCH PLOT. Stop trying to make me care about why the bad guy is bad. I know he is bad because he has an evil look and has henchmen. Stop trying to make me care about the background of your new crew...NO ONE CARES! Did I need to know backstory on Dutch, Dillon, Mac, Blaine, Billy, Rick and Poncho in Predator? No, I did not. Just drop them in the jungle and point their guns towards the bad guy. Nothing more, and nothing less. In this case less is more, and I wish I had more of my time back by watching less of The Expendables 3.
[easyreview title= "Review of The Expendables 3" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="1.5" overall= false]