The Expendables 3 Review

The Expendables 3

When I was a kid, I used to own a load of G.I. Joe action figures which I would regularly mash together in battle. Rationale or plot wasn’t important, only the vocalised laser-gunfire mattered: pew pew pew.

Sylvester Stallone seemed to have taken roughly the same approach when putting together The Expendables in 2010. Except, instead of action figures, he used a bunch of has-been action stars of the eighties.

It all seemed like a one-movie joke, its tongue firmly in cheek and its nod accompanied by a hearty wink. But four years on, and Stallone’s vision has become somewhat of a franchise.

The Expendables 3 is smart enough to leave the formula well alone and continues in the same vein as its predecessors. As sequels of the genre go, it’s actually not bad, with its star power upped from previous instalments.

New faces, and I don’t mean that ironically, include Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson, with Antonio Banderas providing the comic relief.

This time around, Barney Ross (Stallone) and his band of mercenaries find themselves up against the notorious Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson, relishing the villainy).

After Stonebanks seriously injures one of their own, Ross and the gang are set on revenge. Ross however fears for the safety of his comrades, declaring their escapades to be ‘a young man’s game’ and promptly retires all of his men.

Ross then seeks help from Kelsey Grammer’s Bonaparte (Frasier Crane fallen on hard times) to recruit some new blood for the mission. Cue a clichéd team-assembly sequence. But are these youngsters any match for Stonebanks?

The newbies are disappointing, mostly featuring real-life fighters like Victor Ortiz and Ronda Rouse trying their hand at acting.

But let’s face it: this franchise is all about the oldies.

Most of the cast admittedly continue to trade on past glories, with the majority of performances phoned in. But this is not to say that the nostalgia is without merit.

For example, a well-known line from Schwarzenegger nearly resulted in a standing ovation from the pre-screening audience.

And the addition of veteran stars does help. Banderas amuses and it’s good to see Snipes back on form, following both his on and off screen stint in the slammer, while Gibson’s clearly having fun in the second of his cinematic bad-guy roles.

The action is dependably solid, with a noticeable and welcome preference for actual, non-CGI stuntwork.

The opening train sequence particularly impresses, as does the film’s climax, essential a royal-rumble within an abandoned building complex, valiantly attempting to match The Raid.

But what this film lacks in martial arts choreography, it compensates for in explosions. And tanks. And big-ass guns.

Sure, you can argue that such a film glorifies war, and is in bad taste with the current atrocities currently being carried out in places like Gaza. But when the film features characters with names like Lee Christmas, Yin Yang and Toll Road, you suspect that it doesn’t take itself so seriously.

Chances are, you will have known before reading this review if you’ll like this film or not. Suffice to say, fans of Barney Ross’ previous exploits are likely to be pleased.

Conor Brennan

Leave A Comment

Dates ‘n stuff

August 2014