The Expendables 3 is the third and hopefully final outing in the Sylvester Stallone written retired action stars trilogy. Stallone’s Barney and a group of the Expendables are working to stop a man named Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) from causing chaos in some foreign country. As it turns out, Barney knows Stonebanks because he was the other co-founder of the group. Stonebanks now spends his time being an evil mercenary in some foreign country. Barney was tasked by the FBI to bring in Stonebanks alive so they can charge him for a number of diverse war crimes.
This film doesn’t work. The direction by Patrick Hughes is serviceable but the plot is so thin and unspecific that audiences will most likely find the plot unfocused and pointless. The reason for this film is for the aging action stars to have their last moments of glory because they have to give up their action star status for good. The characters have no dimension and no detail. Literally, this film feels so lazy it feels like the actors were just given names for their characters and then the director told the actors to invent their own backstory.
The worst offense is that the film brings in a new set of Expendables because Barney half way through the film decides he doesn’t want to put the rest of his team in danger. I’d be fine with new characters if the leads actually had personalities but they don’t. Adding in new people not only crowds an already bloated film but it also bucks the mission statement of the entire trilogy. Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews get very little to do this time around and that incredibly frustrating because the rest of the team is who I paid to see. They may have no personalities as characters but their skills as action stars keeps the movie watchable. They weren’t given their due.
Mel Gibson seems to be the only actor given a personality for his character. It was good to see Gibson in a ruthless and cutthroat role. In no way, is Gibson given an opportunity to showcase range but his constant terrorizing of Barney and the brutality with which he works to cripple Barney’s team is fascinating to watch. The best scene in the film is Stonebanks decision not to kill Barney and instead disable big man and mildly likable character Caesar (Terry Crews). I know I was supposed to feel bad when Caesar got taken out of the film but I felt nothing because his character wasn’t given a chance to grow in the first two films.
By far the worst character in the film is Antonio Banderas’s character of Galgo. I don’t even know where to begin with that character. Banderas portrays this character as an ADHD 12 year old hopped up on sugar, candy, and coffee. Galgo is so eager to be a member of Barney’s group that he has a monologue about how valuable he would be to the team. The character would have worked better if Barney rejected Galgo and that was the shtick of the character. Bring him along on the mission only made me cringe every time I saw him in an action scene. He should not have been in this film.
The action scenes in this film were overly simplistic and too quick. What I would have liked to see were four good hand to hand combat scenes and two big gunfight set pieces instead I got four gunfights and one hand to hand combat scenes. Stallone took this route because he knows audiences like to watch things explode and while that’s noble it’s incredibly tedious.
This film is not for audiences who want an action film with plot. The Expendables 3 is for people who don’t know the difference between a well-choreographed action scene and bad explosions made by people who forgot the premise of their own franchise. Avoid this film at all costs and go see Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.