The Expendables 3 Reviews
I honestly didn't hate this movie. It didn't reach the so-called 'heights' of the second movie, but it's still entertaining and a fun way to turn off your brain.
Let's assess. It's the third film in a to-that-point successful series. The first two were rated R (pretty "hard" R's too, if I remember correctly). After all, the series is about a grizzled team of mercenaries that find themselves doing the CIA's dirty, very violent cleanup work. What exactly made the filmmakers think it was a good idea to give the next film a PG-13 rating? Now obviously, this was an attempt to make more money by appealing to a younger audience.
Only...it didn't. And that's because the first two movies were not made for a younger audience. Fans of the first two movies most likely fell into an older demographic; specifically, they were probably people who grew up watching the all-star cast members' individual movies in the '80's and '90's, during the time when the coveted "younger audience" would have been in diapers (if they were born at all). So the "younger audience" was indifferent to a brand they knew very little about, and the "older audience" likely didn't appreciate their more hardcore movies getting toned down for the kiddies.
And not one person involved in the production of this thing thought about this?
Of course, the toning down of the movie also serves to further highlight the bizarre reasonings of the MPAA. Scores of people get killed in "The Expendables 3," by bullets, blades, explosives, fisticuffs...you name it. But because there's no spray of blood or the characters don't drop f-bombs while doing so, the film snags the lower rating.
The rating blunder was obviously a mistake, but I'd argue that it's hardly the movie's biggest problem. (After all, the theatrical version of "Live Free or Die Hard" was an absolute blast, and it's light years better than the R-rated follow-up "A Good Day to Die Hard.") "The Expendables 3" is just not nearly as much fun as it should be; there's nothing special about any of the set-pieces, too often many of the characters are given nothing to do, and the story is uninspired, even for this kind of fare.
In fact, much of the movie hits many of the same notes as its superior predecessor. Once again, we open with Sylvester Stallone's Barney Ross leading his ragtag group of hired guns to rescue an imprisoned comrade. Shortly after, the team encounters a psychotic villain (this time played by Mel Gibson) who takes out a member of their team, leaving Barney very angry. The rest of the movie basically focuses on his quest for vengeance. The major difference this time though is that he sidelines his old squad (consisting of series vets Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture, and newcomer Wesley Snipes) in favor of younger, sexier recruits (including Rhonda Rousey and Kellan Lutz).
This is also a misstep. There are too many characters as it is, and it doesn't make much sense to cast aside the characters we've seen in the previous movies to make room for newer, prettier and--let's face it--essentially interchangeable models. Maybe we should be focusing on returning players to try and give them some depth. Randy Couture has been in all three movies, and I still can't tell you one defining characteristic of his role. He's always just there, another entity in the background.
The same could be said for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li, whose presence feels perfunctory, at best. I really get the sense that they're in this movie solely because they were in the previous two. Their characters don't really serve much of a purpose, and Jet Li doesn't even get to do any kung-fu stunts. What's the point?
The bright spots in the film mostly involve individual performances. Gibson has a few great moments, sinking his teeth into the scenery with gleeful intensity (though the role is very similar to the one he played in "Machete Kills"). But the best moments belong to Antonio Banderas as a motormouthed, overzealous mercenary who desperately wants to join the Expendables team. Of all the new characters, he's really the only one who makes an impression. Should there be an "Expendables 4," I'd be very displeased if he were not in it (particularly if empty characters like Couture's are allowed to return).
After the raucously enjoyable ride that was "The Expendables 2," "The Expendables 3" is a thudding disappointment. Boring set-pieces, lame jokes, useless characters, a neutered rating...the worst part is that many of its mistakes could've been easily rectified.