Plot: After firing the expendables, Barney Ross hires a new team to take down his old partner played by Mel Gibson.
Review: With the expendables 2, Sylvester Stallone had finally figured out what made the franchise great. It was fun, it was bloody, it fed off the real life pasts of the actors collected and it was entertaining through and through. It was one of my favorite movies of that year and I was excited for the next installment of a weird franchise. Sadly Expendables 3 takes a step backward despite the fact that Stallone has collected the best team yet (and then fired them to bring in a group of cardboard cutouts brought to life.)
The movie starts well enough with the gang breaking Wesley Snipes’ Doc out of prison for “tax evasion.” It’s a fun scene even if it’s hard to not tell it had to be watered down for the series’ first pg-13 entry. But soon they are attacked by Mel Gibson, still a fun actor which make his views even more tragic, and Barney fires the team we care about to assemble a team they don’t. Listen I have nothing against Kellen Lutz, or Ronda Rousey (Victor Ortiz isn’t much of a boxer so he sucks) but the franchise doesn’t work for them. No one really has a bad story in these movies or even characters. For the most part, each actor is playing a version of their film history (this movie actually does the opposite of this but not where it’s needed and I’ll talk about it later.) The most we know about Stallone’s character that we doesn’t bring up his film history is he has a big ring. So by bringing in actors that don’t have that kind of history to latch on to (I guess Lutz brought in the shitty boring history of hercules?) the film isn’t written to give these guys compelling characters and even worse nothing to care about.
To make matters worse, the whole reason Stallone sets up the team is because he doesn’t want his friends killed (even though they are known as the expendables) so he hires a bunch of suicidal danger freaks. This way if they die he won’t care. But then they get captured and he wants to rescue them? Wasn’t the point that he didn’t have to rescue them cause he didn’t care? If this was his arc maybe and maybe if we cared this would matter but they are so bad, I don’t care if they live or die so why keep watching. His arc does seem to be if you are a born killer do you have a place in the world after the war? Which was also the arc of expendables one, and expendables 2, and first blood and rambo 2 and rambo 3 and rambo and rocky balboa if you replace killer with fighter. I know he loves this arc but if he has nothing to bring to the table it’s time to put it to rest. It feels a bit like treading water now.
But now let’s talk about the good stuff that makes the bad stuff even worse. The movie has the best team ever! (Before the new Expendables are added.) I know I just said that the team doesn’t have characters but Antonio Banderas actually goes against this. He’s the only one making a whole new person (a talkative solider that had to kill his team,) and shines in the film. He actually saves the film. Also Wesley Snipes quickly reminds you why he’s so great on screen and his back and forth with Jason Statham (the unused heart of the series) is great. If the film had just focused on the two new characters and getting revenge against Mel Gibson, it would have been great.
But the middle part just goes nowhere (not to mention breaking someone out of prison and then firing him, what was snipes supposed to do? Get an office job with no experience and no excuse for his 9 year disappearance?)
The Expendables 3 gives us the best team and the worst film of the series.
Trivia: Wesley Snipes was actually offered a part in the first film but was still in jail, so the opening is a great call back.