Friday, August 15, 2014


As most of us mortals know, a good sequel should accomplish two major goals. The first and foremost mission is to advance your storyline and characters, with the second being a willingness to correct any flaws the previous film or films may have had. A failure to reach those two goals can be forgivable, as long as a good movie is made. Enter Sylvester Stallone’s third installment of aging action stars in THE EXPENDABLES 3.

Barney (Stallone) and his team of free-lance commandos (Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger), comes into a bloody feud with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who years ago co-founded Barney’s Expendables team.

The main draw of this franchise of action-flicks has always been the novelty of seeing classic action stars from what could be considered the Golden Age of Action Movies (1980-1995, ish) sharing the screen. Once you get past that big-wow factor, it all comes back to the movie…and THE EXPENDABLES 3 struggles to get anything right. Similar to the previous entries, the plot is paper-thin and the threat is nothing more than a clich├ęd bad guy with an axe to grind, who also seems to magically have thousands of men at his command. The good guys, and there are many of them, are testosterone-fueled muscle-headed one-note lugnuts who haven’t seem to have advanced at all from their earlier adventures and are as boring as they are unlikeable. Once the bullets start to fly and the explosions go boom, even that falls flat as they have little to no consequence and do not move the plot forward at all; they feel perfunctory…as if they were put in there just because of the reputation of the cast.

On top of everything else, THE EXPENDABLES 3 sabotages its own self by constantly taking the camera away from the favorited action stars in favor of the younger cast members, who are no-name twits and twats that no one would want to see in their own films. Those younger cast members add nothing to the story, and much like the action sequences, are there just to fill time and space. Director Patrick Hughes has a lot to learn about cutting a film together. Many scenes drag on for way too long, and for as thin as the plot actually is, the movie has no business being longer than two hours (which it is). The PG-13 rating puts the handcuffs on the editing, as the filmmakers are forced to cut away before any blood is shown…making for some very choppy action. The CG is terrible (did they really have to CG the helicopters?), but some of the hand-to-hand combat fights are done well.

Acting is a big ball of blah. The older guys just grumble and mumble their way through, with Harrison Ford being the biggest embarrassment. The few highlights belong to a re-energized Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes…and to Mel Gibson; who as the big bad wolf is outstanding despite being drastically underwritten. Jet Li, as the lone martial-arts expert of the cast, is wasted as he is not allowed to throw one goddamn punch, chop, or kick.

As a sequel furthering its story and characters, THE EXPENDABLES 3 fails hard, just as it does as an action movie. It does have its fun moments with the cast, and yes, it’s neat to see the guys who once played Rocky, Terminator, Indy, Zorro, and Mad Max share the screen…it’s just an outright travesty that they have to do so in such lousy surroundings.


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