The Expendables 3 – Movie Review – Dan O’Neill
Director: Patrick Hughes
Writers: Sylvester Stallone (screenplay), Creighton Rothenberger (screenplay)
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Glen Powell, Antonio Banderas…
There’s several ways of looking at ‘Expendables 3’. Does it hold up as a Hollywood Blockbuster? Is it a meta-comment by the screenwriter and
director (‘Sly’ Stallone proud to boast a writing credit on this one) on the nature of cultural role of the action movie in the 21st Century? Does it stretch a group of highly-limited actors beyond their comfort-zone and provide the audience with something that might be classed as entertainment? Or, in the ‘Field of Dreams’ analogy, if you build a really bad movie, will they just come anyway?
The plot, such as it is, can be summed up as this. A group of tough guys who are in Expendables 1 and 2 are back together working for Stallone. They have to get some bad guy, Mel Gibson, and bring him to trail at The Hague. Gibson, you see, is very bad; a war criminal, no less. They will have to kill a lot of people to do so but without spilling too much blood on-screen or using too much bad language – as this is a 12A’s rating of a film. There will be lots of male-bonding, loud explosions, said tough-guys with their tough-guy dialogue and knife throwing too. That’s it.
The acting is of mixed quality, to put it mildly. Jason Statham gets to demonstrate his considerable range of grunts, stares, knife-throwing, shouting and expositions on the Cartesian mind-body question (all sadly true, apart from the last bit). Yet there are some redemptive moments from Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frasier…sorry, Kelesy Grammer and a puss-in-boots redux from Antonio Banderas. The younger cast try their best with a pretty weak script but much of the movie seems like their impossible military orders; an idiotic suicide mission.
There are few upsides. Is this a popcorn movie? You can do so much better if you’re looking for brainless entertainment. At several points you ask yourself if this is ‘Team America’ or ‘Tropic Thunder’. This is cinema where subtlety is non-existent and originality is as rare as the collective brain cells of the Expendables. Hipsters won’t find this ironic, comic-con fans probably won’t find it cool. Yet, if you’re an NRA Dad living in Louisiana, this is perfect fare for you and your son for a Saturday afternoon in your air-conditioned, soulless mall.