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Movie Review: The Expendables 3

By Edited Jan 1, 2016 1 10
The Expendables 3

Certificate 12A, 126 minutes

Director: Patrick Hughes

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson

The Expendables 3, the latest and allegedly last instalment in the series and the sequel to The Expendables 2, starts off with an action set piece where Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), fortunately without the really unflattering moustache he had in the previous film, and the Expendables are highjacking an armoured prison transport train using a helicopter in order to rescue a former Expendable, nicknamed Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes) or "Doc" who has been locked up for years. The next mission takes them to Mogadishu in Somalia to take out a billionaire arms dealer. The man isn't who they've been led to believe; his name is actually Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a man that Ross believed was dead and a co-founder of the Expendables themselves.

The Expendables 3
The mission doesn't go to plan, and Stonebanks gets away. Church, the CIA guy that the team had dealt with before has been replaced (apparently Bruce Willis wanted so much to reprise his role that he was sacked[1]) by Drummer (Harrison Ford, Ender's Game, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The CIA want Stonebanks, and will provide more information so that he can be hunted down. Ross, not wanting to risk the old Expendables in a mission that he believes will get them killed, sacks them - for their own good, of course - and hires a new, younger team, one that he is less attached to, so that he won't be upset by what he considers to be their inevitable death.

Of course, things still don't go to plan, Ross gets attached to his new team, and the remainder of the old team - plus old friends like Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Escape Plan, Sabotage) - show up for one final attempt to take down Stonebanks.

As well as the oddly bloodless violence - rather surprisingly for a film with so much of it only got a 12A certificate, because the deaths are all rather sterile and bloodless - there is some humour, and not just the banter between Ross and Christmas (Jason Statham), or between the other characters, as seen in all the previous films. There are also some humorous bits related to real life events that have been injected in. For example, when asked what he was locked up for Doc answers "Tax evasion" which was something that Snipes himself had been imprisoned for.[2] Admittedly, this was seen in other films in the series, and this leads to one of the major complaints with the film.

Everything has been done before. There are some nice action set pieces, with car chases, helicopters, tanks, gunfights, explosions, knife fights and hand to hand combat, as aging action starts (and some younger ones) strut their stuff, often with Really Big Guns. Anyone whose seen those aging stars in their heydays will see much that is familiar. There are lots of red shirt enemy minions whose only purpose in life is to get mown down without actually scratching anyone.[3] Mel Gibson is a suitably nutty villain, even if his performance is rather similar in many ways to the villain he played in Machete Kills.

This is an old school action film, but there isn't really anything new brought to it. If you've watched old films like Arnie's Commando from the 80's, then this film will seem very similar in how it handles things. It even acknowledges this fact at points during the film, such as when one of Ross's new team says "Welcome to the 21st century" or when Trench and Ross talk about retiring but it doesn't actually do anything about it. Instead, it relies on what used to work, giving the feeling that this was shot to allow those aging stars to reminisce about their glory days, rather than moving with the times. More recent actions films handle things differently; this one, instead, retreats to the past. The Expendables 3 is okay if you want to see an old-school action film, but it can't really be called retro, and there are already plenty of examples of that genre out there from its heyday.
The Expendables 3 egdcltd 2014-08-15 3.0 0 5
The Expendables 3
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 1, 2016)


Aug 16, 2014 9:09am
Good review. I might check the movie out, sounds like it might be a last hurrah for a lot of them. Stallone is still in incredible shape. He must have some personal trainer(s).
Aug 17, 2014 8:52am
I think both he and Arnie still work out regularly. Arnie is in an upcoming Terminator film; I hope that one is decent.
Sep 3, 2014 8:34am
The idea of "The Expendables" was a fun novelty at first, but I think it's run its course now. I also think Stallone is in incredible shape for his age. If anyone can convincingly portray a killer cyborg at 67 it would be Arnold, although I hope it doesn't taint the memory of the earlier "Terminator" films.
Sep 3, 2014 9:36am
Terminator 3 wasn't brilliant, but it was better than the one after it. The Terminator and Terminator 2 are still enjoyable films - I don't know how many times I've watched them now (I saw T2 three times at the cinema alone) but I still tend to watch them when they come on again.
Sep 3, 2014 11:00am
Do you prefer "Terminator" or "Terminator 2"? I ask even though I suspect you prefer "T2."
Sep 3, 2014 11:11am
It's hard to say. I wasn't old enough to catch Terminator when it first came out, so I saw T2 more at the cinema, but they're kind of different characters. The original Terminator is such an implacable, unfeeling - and barely speaking - killing machine, rather than the more humanised version in T2.
Sep 3, 2014 11:55am
Schwarzenegger only has 17 lines in the entire first movie, one of which he says twice.
Sep 4, 2014 2:08am
I read something once that said he was getting paid tens of thousands of dollars per word. The UK film critic Barry Norman said that he appreciated Schwarzenegger more when he stopped thinking of him as an actor and more as a human special effect.
Sep 4, 2014 12:25pm
I had never heard that before, but that is a perfect description!
Sep 7, 2014 3:47am
Yes, it does seem to sum him up.
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  1. "Bruce Willis 'wanted $1m a day for Expendables 3'." The Guardian. 15/08/2014 <Web >
  2. "Lawyers Plan To Appeal Snipes' Sentence." Wesh. 15/08/2014 <Web >
  3. "Redshirt (character)." Wikipedia. 15/08/2014 <Web >

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