THE EXPENDABLES 3 review by Gary Murray – third time is the charm for this action franchise

THE EXPENDABLES 3 review by Gary Murray – third time is the charm for this action franchise


A few decades ago Sylvester Stallone was the biggest action hero on the planet. Between Rocky and Rambo he was the go-to guy for over the top thrills and spills. Over time his leading man star has faded a bit and for a while he was doing more character roles. So Sly recharged his career with the first Expendables film in 2010 and the sequel in 2012. As the last rays of summer glean over the theater house, we get the next adventure The Expendables 3, which feels like something from the action heydays of the 1980s.

The film starts with a James Bond style opening action sequence. Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) pilots a helicopter during a break-out on a prison train. His crew includes Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) both solid soldiers and mercenaries. The goal of the mission is to get back Doc (Wesley Snipes). The mission goes a bit awry and there are massive bad-guy deaths and thunderous explosions. We eventually get to the meat of the adventure. Ross is hired by Drummer (Harrison Ford) to bring back alive a terrorist known to Ross as Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). Ross and Stonebanks had a run in earlier in their respective careers and Ross thought for years that Stonebanks was dead. It is now a personal vendetta that Ross has to avenge along with a paycheck for doing the right thing.

Since Ross is afraid that his fellow Expendable men will get hurt, he cuts the guys loose and recruits a new crew, which also includes a woman named Luna (Ronda Rousey). Well, this green crew gets captured by Stonebanks and Ross must reassemble the old crew to rescue the new crew. The entire episode culminates in a giant battle in an abandoned hotel. It is a melee of violence with explosions and massive death totals. And like films from the 1980s, all the good guys get barely a scratch.

Half the fun of the film is watching where the next cameo will come from. Just about every star from the last few years makes an appearance in The Expendables 3. In roles that would have been given to low-level character actors, we get some of the more famous faces in Hollywood. With such a large famous cast, it takes a Herculean effort to rise above the fray. Easily the actor who achieved this task best with a secondary performance is Antonio Banderas. His character Galgo wants nothing more than to become a part of The Expendables and tells tale after tale of his exploits to win over his cohorts. It is comic relief moments that are much needed.

It is also great to see Wesley Snipes back in an action role and he delivers the biggest flippant line during his escape. He still has ‘cool’ all over his performance. The new Expendables do not measure up to the same degree as the older actors. Only Ronda Rousey rises above the fray. It may be that she’s the only female member that makes her stand out but she still goes blow for blow with the boys. It is fun to watch her destroy bad guys.

This is another one in the win column for Sylvester Stallone, turning in a crowd-pleasing event more than a motion picture. The action star may be a bit past his prime but he still can deliver the goods on an action scale. No one expects Shakespeare with a title like The Expendables 3, but it is fun watching Sly dropping his off-the-cuff lines.

The film is directed by Patrick Hughes, an up and coming filmmaker who is getting his first real American break with this installment. For the most part, he delivers exactly what the audience expects — loads of explosions and lots of flash. The film gives the audience exactly what it wants, a cathartic release of violence and bloodshed. This is made for action junkies, not Oscar voters. The Expendables 3 is the kind of movie that evokes the 1980s action genre style, from the actors all the way to the body count. It’s basically a stand-alone adventure and one does not have to see the first two outings in order to understand this story. It is so much more like a comic book than a cinematic film experience, full of derring-do and silly one-liners. Of the three Expendables adventures, this time out is a fun little romp of thrills. If you enjoyed the first two, you will love this one – it’s the best of the bunch.

THE EXPENDABLES 3 opens on August 15, 2014

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