EXPENDABLES 3, THE
A assignment to stop a powerful weapon from falling into the wrong hands ends in a shocking turn of events for Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his crack team of mercenaries, known as The Expendables. They discover that the ruthless arms dealer they are pursuing is none other than Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), Barney's former partner and Expendables' co-founder, and a man he thought he had killed more than a decade earlier. Classic old-school tactics meet high-tech expertise as the combined teams battle to survive an epic onslaught by Stonebanks' militia.
Review by Louise Keller:
Thank goodness for Mel Gibson, who injects life in the third film of the Expendables franchise, which otherwise is a tired, turgid affair. There's plenty of mindless action with stunts that are bigger but arguably not better, and overall the excitement feels as though it is at arm's length. When Arnie says to Sly: 'I'm getting out of this business; so should you,' the line has a ring of truth about it. The story for which Stallone is credited is a bit of a mess, while Red Hill director Patrick Hughes seems out of his depth, as hyper-action swallows up any semblance of a cohesive story while guns blaze, bullets pelt, buildings topple and Hollywood stuntmen are kept busy in trains, boats, choppers and cars with a nonstop stream of incredulous action. It's a pity because the first two films offered genuine testosterone-filled spirit and camaraderie, while the potent spray of the alpha male was tinged with appealing self-deprecation and humour.
The story takes an age to get going, relying on massive action sequences that appear to be action for action's sake. It's not until Gibson appears (as arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks) that things become a bit more interesting; Stonebanks used to be one of the Expendables and now he's a good guy turned bad. Aren't they the worst kind? Then age becomes an issue and when Harrison Ford's CIA chief calls, Stallone's Barney discards the old ageing team (Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Doph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes) replacing them with a new, younger leaner group (Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell, Ronda Rousey). The idea of discarding the old for the new, and then the old coming to rescue the new isn't all bad, but the new team has little going for it by way of personality or appeal, so it's all a bit of a yawn.
Antonio Banderas may irritate as the overzealous, chatterbox, hyperactive killing machine, but at least he does liven things up, which is more than can be said for Arnie, who chomps on his cigar looking as though he is ready for his afternoon nap. Stallone curls his top lip ad nauseum, looking and sounding more and more like a mumbling, cardboard cutout. Statham jokes, Ford grimaces, Li looks embarrassed, while the juice is all left to Gibson, who depicts evil personified, flashing those baby blues with the crazy look he does so well. Fittingly, the grand finale is all about Stallone and Gibson who face off somewhere in the Middle East in a skyscraper that is about to be blown to smithereens. Let's hope the franchise ends here - I, for one, could not bear the thought of these once-heroic characters being demeaned any further.
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EXPENDABLES 3, THE (M)
CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Doph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Randy Couture
PRODUCER: Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner, Kevin King Templeton, John Thompson, Les Weldon
DIRECTOR: Patrick Hughes
SCRIPT: Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzies Jr
EDITOR: Sean Albertson, Paul Harb
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Daniel T. Dorrance
RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 14, 2014