Directed: Patrick Huges
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren and Mel Gibson
Running: 126 Mins
Sly Stallone some how manages to squeeze a third movie out of an idea that became very boring, very quick. As someone who has supported this idea from the beginning, despite Stallone's mediocrity as far as his modern career has gone, it is fair to say that the Expendables 3 is a step too far, or a step in the wrong direction if you like. Sly, who now looks like a spread of mushy pinto beans, recruits the "old gang" for another expendable crusade only to decide he no longer needs his partners, substituting the originals for a group of amateur hoodlums - and Antonio Banderas.
This ambitious trilogy starts off at great pace and typical expendable fashion as Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham), Gunner (Lundgren), Caesar (Crews) and Toll (Couture) pursue a train carrying a former expendable in Doc played by Wesley Snipes. Bodies drop and explosions appear from every angle before we meet a breath of fresh air in Doc; a delusional, skillful and typically cocky character. Snipes does well in reminding us what we have been missing since his stint behind bars (oh the irony). It's not long after Doc meets the crew that he finds himself gearing up to take down this years bad guy. Just as we thought Sly and co had wiped out the best in Van Damme and Stone Cold, Mel Gibson's Stonebanks shows up to spoil the party. Conrad Stonebanks is a former expendable (a story surprisingly left this late in the series) turned criminal arms dealer. This plot could have ended 30 minutes in and we would have judged the outcome but thankfully, Barney's expression tells it all. He knows the consequence of Conrad's existence and what it could mean for the world as we know it. Introducing Drummer, or, the new Bruce Willis played by Harrison Ford. Drummer demands Conrad be brought in, alive! Barney is kind enough to consider the safety of his crew, therefore opting to recruit a bunch of young bloods to help bring in the maniac that is Stonebanks.
And so the oldies go back to normality and Ronda Rousy, Victor Ortiz, Antonio Banderas and some other dude gear up for a war that Barney himself sees no sense in. But Sly is the front man in this movie so he needs to lead, at least until his old mercenaries are called back into the frame to save the day.
The Expendables 3 is awful on every level. First off, the original concept is out the window therefore contradicting the original idea which was to showcase a level of entertainment featuring 80's originals. While the first movie received mixed reviews, I loved it for what it was; it had humor, character, excitement and an interesting bad guy. To top it off, it was bloody as hell. The sequel clung on to similar roots, giving us more Arnie and Willis. On the other hand Jean Claude Van Damme showcased an over the top terrorist recognized in retro action flicks before him. The expendables 3 lacks the actors necessary to fulfill its original, opting for the idea of modernized technology and youthful ideas in Sly's new cast of nobodies. It's predecessors, however the ridiculousness, made you anticipate who will appear on screen next. This return showboats the same ridiculousness without the surprise, or bite if you like to fulfill ones need for entertaining action or fight scenes. The fun, comic book like anarchy is downgraded thanks to the PG12 rating, a real surprise and slap in the face regarding the gory outlandish images the first two gives us. The lack of blood is a real let down in a film such as this because, as mentioned, its contradicting the original idea which was an attempt to mimic the graphic imagery of 80's action movies. Everything from the soundtrack to the dialog, this one falls flat on its face and the result is shown on Sly's face too. The former boxer slash soldier looks worse for wear when stood next to Snipes and Banderas both of whom tried to inject some life into this movie.
Maybe this needed a Jackie Chan, Nicholas Cage, Kurt Russel or Dwayne Johnson, either way I'm not buying the whole "leave your brain at the door" nonsense because I understand that. But when it comes down to what was and what is, one cannot help but question the transformation of audience director Patrick Hughes has opted for. The change of tone is a big problem in a movie such as this. While my brain switched off in preparation for some mindless fun, I found no nostalgia this time around, rather a two hour headache filled with boring characters with little or no relevance to the original idea. Sylvester Stallone too looked bored out of his mind from start to finish; at least he found some way of connecting with the audience.