We’ve done this dance how many times now? You’ve (presumably) seen two Expendables movies already, so shouldn’t you know exactly how they work? Aging action stars team up to take down another aging action star. Sometimes there’s blood and profanity, sometimes there’s no blood and less profanity, but it all basically works the same. You’re supposed to have fun simply because of the cast. That’s really never happened. The movies just haven’t been good enough so far. Does that change with the third installment?
No. No, it doesn’t. The Expendables 3 is just as mediocre as the other two chapters in a series that makes a lot of money but really aren’t any good. This one might be even worse. I know some people like them, and that’s fine. I just don’t see much to like. The action is bland, the cast doesn’t get much to do, there’s little acting involved, and the whole point — to be an homage of dumb, ’80s action movies — gets kind of lost along the way. They’re just dumb, boring action movies set nowadays with actors who should no longer star in action movies. And Jason Statham.
The plot this time sees Barney (Sylvester Stallone), the leader of a mercenary group known as The Expendables, tasked with his biggest mission yet, because of course it is. After a mission gone bad, during which he found out an old enemy, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), is still alive, he has to find Stonebanks with an all-new crew, as he fires his old crew for their safety. He doesn’t want to see them die, after the one played by Terry Crews is critically wounded. So he gets some new ones. They’re going to track down Stonebanks and bring him in. For whom? The CIA. Yes, The Expendables are now working for the CIA — represented by a character played by Harrison Ford.
The new group consists of Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, and Victor Ortiz. The old group — which is still important because they’re the bigger names — has Statham, Dolp Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews. Wesley Snipes is rescued right at the beginning of the film to be part of the “old” team, and there are a couple of funny lines that are nodding at his real life tax problems. They’re humorous. It’s too bad that’s one of only two joys in the movie; the other is Antonio Banderas, who shows up for the final expedition. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kelsey Grammer, and Jet Li are also in the movie. Bruce Willis is not, because he wanted too much money.
Only Kelsey Grammer gets to do any “acting” in The Expendables 3. That’s a good thing, as there are a trio of non-actors in the film, and a bunch of bad actors filling out most of the other roles. Randy Couture, Victor Ortiz, and Ronda Rousey are not actors, and they are not good whenever they are on-screen. Couture is in the film because he was in the last couple, while Rousey is in the film because we need a requisite woman, and she can do her own stunts, I assume. Ortiz doesn’t even make an impression. Few of the men in the film made their careers with good acting. They were in dumb and cheesy action movies. The younger cast members barely even have a career. With all due respect, who is Glen Powell?
I have a feeling that The Expendables 3 is going to upset a bunch of the people who will go see it. They’re going for all of these old and grizzled action stars, but most of them are absent from the film’s middle section. There’s over an hour chunk of this film that focuses on Stallone and the younger actors. Crews is literally in only three or four scenes. Li only shows up at the end. Most of the other series veterans get to do their thing at the beginning and at the end, but not during the largest chunk of the film (the middle).
And when there is action, it’s not good action. The Expendables movies usually have one or two great moments, and this one has precisely one, but they’re light on memorable, inventive, or even exciting action for the most part. There’s no creativity, they’re not filmed in an exciting way — it’s like nobody cared. They consist primarily of old people shooting guns at identical-looking villains, or Ronda Rousey doing UFC moves on the same bad guys. That’s all there is, for the most part.
So, if the old stars aren’t in the movie that much, and the action isn’t very good, why see The Expendables 3? I really can’t give you a reason. Perhaps because Mel Gibson’s in it and Mel Gibson isn’t in a lot of movies these days? He’s fun to watch, if that’s something that you want to see. I don’t have much of a reason outside of that. Antonio Banderas provides a bit of energy that’s otherwise lacking, although I think most people will see him as more annoying than a reason to watch.
The Expendables 3 is not worth seeing unless you’re a die-hard fan of the franchise (or one of its actors) or have already sat through two of them and need to see the third for the completion factor. The action isn’t good, most of the actors you want to see aren’t in it for the film’s majority, and there’s very little here worth watching in a film that runs for over two hours. It’s boring, it’s lazy, and it’s not worth watching.