“The Expendables 3,” now in theaters, continues the franchise featuring well-known action-movie icons of the 1980s and 1990s in an attempt to recapture their glory days. I thought the first movie was average, the second movie was actually better-than-average, but the third movie falls by the wayside.
And like so many action movies, it gets shot at and blown up, but it never really dies.
Sylvester Stallone returns as Expendables head Barney Ross, who’s back with his old comrades in another movie with the following: shootouts, explosions, one-liners, repeat. Joining him for this third installment are old-and-new-school veterans like Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren.
The first two movies gave us everyone from Chuck Norris to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and just about every other action hero in between. This one gives us the likes of Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes, who gives one of the few funny one-liners in the film when he’s asked why his character was in prison for so long. Snipes’ response (inspired by real life?): “Tax evasion.”
As for the plot (like it really matters), the Expendables go up against one of their former members. Saddled with perhaps one of the most awkward-sounding names ever for a villain, Mel Gibson is Conrad Stonebanks, now a deadly arms dealer bent on world domination. Gibson tries to have his moments, but his charismatic presence really is underutilized.
The Expendables 3 also gives us the returning Arnold Schwarzenegger and newcomer Harrison Ford as both a replacement and an upgrade from Bruce Willis in the first two films.
One of the best things I can say about the “Expendables” series is that every actor involved is in on the joke and knows when they are entering preposterous territory.
However, this movie felt completely bankrupt most of the time. One thing that might disappoint fans of the first two is the PG-13 rating after two-straight Rs. I would’ve preferred the R rating for this one — not for obvious reasons, but instead to stay in the style and tone of what these movies are.
Other problems are that it’s bland and predictable with an inconsequential plot, repetitive action scenes and dull one-liners that the actors think are a lot funnier than we do. Plus, none of these characters really are put into any kind of legitimate jeopardy. Nothing bad ever happens to any character unless the screenplay requires it.
This latest entry felt tired, and I think there’s only so much coolness to be found in the notion of these Hollywood tough guys trying to relive their golden days. I think Stallone and company should take their retirement from this series and move on.
(Rated PG-13 for violence, including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language.)
This review is dedicated to the memory of Robin Williams.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.