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The Expendables 3 – Movie Review

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The Expendables 3 – Movie Review

Rating: D (Very Bad)

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A movie like The Expendables 3 is not asking for much. It simply wants to bring together a bunch of aging action stars and show off some expensive explosions. It’s almost laughable that Sylvester Stallone is given a “story” credit, because there is not any semblance of one found in this film. However, it might be too much of a dumb action movie and ultimately gets dull after the millionth muscle flex and machine gun firing. There is a certain novelty to seeing these 1980s action stars, along with a couple of fresh faces, paired up. Yet that runs the risk of getting very thin, especially without characters we give a damn about.

Almost every action scene in The Expendables 3 consists of guns shooting in every possible direction, leaving bodies and destruction in their path. A well-done shoot-out can be exciting, especially if the filmmakers can do some inventive things. There is not a single ounce of originality or freshness to be found in the action set pieces here. While there is a bit of hand-to-hand combat thrown in, director Patrick Hughes mostly relies on the actors shooting their prop guns and this becomes boring very quickly. The editing is very chaotic and haphazardly cut together, with many scenes shot in close-up. The cutting is so quick, it is mostly incomprehensible. Whether this was a case of the sequel softening the violence to gain a less restrictive classification or simply the current annoying shaky-cam trend that invades many action films, it lowers the professionalism of those sequences. The special effects are also very low-grade, with some very fake-looking helicopter shots that appear throughout the film, along with a very obvious computer-generated parachute stunt.

The acting isn’t much to write home about, either. Despite being a passion project for Sylvester Stallone, he fails to bring any ounce of charisma to his role and at a number of points, he’s almost difficult to understand. Wesley Snipes is underused (though his character gets one of the few funny lines), Antonio Banderas threatens to wear out his welcome and Jason Statham is…well…Jason Statham. The other main Expendables, meanwhile, fade into the background. Mel Gibson is aptly cast as the villain and one wonders how much of his performance consisted of acting. Despite his role, no in-jokes are made about his off-screen reputation, even though the opportunity certainly presented itself. One of the few smile-inducing scenes in The Expendables 3 is when Harrison Ford appears, with his famous gruff voice and still with that Han Solo and Indiana Jones spark within him. Ford takes advantage of this opportunity with him and Arnold Schwarzenegger being the only actors gleefully chewing the scenery with relish.

New younger faces are brought in for The Expendables 3, but they are merely blank faces with zero personality. They are basically there to occasionally look tough and make “old man” jokes. Ronda Rousey’s role as one of the new Expendables is basically the token girl and given nothing more, though she at least gets to show off a couple of moves gained from her time in the MMA ring. None of the characters is this film are worth caring about and unless you’ve followed these people through two prior films, it’s unlikely you’ll remember their names. With their lack of personality, it means their missions lack any tension or level of excitement. Even the evil plan of Mel Gibson’s villain is basically summed up by referring to him as a “war criminal” and basically leaving it at that.

It’s understandable why Sylvester Stallone would want to make these Expendables pictures, as they allow him to hang around with old and new friends and revisit his glory days as an action star. However, even blow-em-up action movies need some semblance of story and character development to make the audience care about the hero’s fates. Even a juicy scenery-chewing villain would be acceptable, which not even Gibson seems to provide (one wonders when Nicolas Cage will get a chance to appear in this series). The amount of gun shoot-outs gets boring quickly, resulting in a dull and draggy two hours of dumb and senseless violence with no substance.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison