By Kyle Minton
Shoot ‘em up action films are simple. The stories are non-existent, the acting is borderline laughable and the plot has more holes in it than a bulletproof vest. And that’s what we love about those films. The guaranteed bloody action mixed with the cheesy one-liners are one of the main reasons why we flock to the movies in the first place. The Expendables franchise has been delivering that dosage since the series started. The first two films were the most entertaining action films in the last fifteen years. Both very bloody. Both very dumb but both very fun. I left the theater with a Stallone-like smirk on my face both times. Now that we’ve established what made the first two Expendables films great fun, let’s start discussing why The Expendables 3 doesn’t come close to living up to that formula or to the first two Expendables films.
Right off the bat before I saw the movie, I was already worried about the change from an R rating to a PG-13 rating. My guess as to why they decided on this action is to lure the people under the age of seventeen in to the movie theater. Which automatically raises eyebrows, seeing as the majority of viewers of the first two films were ALREADY teenagers/early twenties. So changing the rating and watering down the movie from Expendables-worthy violence so that you can attempt to draw a crowd that you already possess doesn’t make any sense at all.
The film stars most of our usual suspects: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger. After breaking an ex-Expendable/team medic (Wesley Snipes) out of a military prison, the team is sent to Somalia to capture a warlord and intercept a shipment of various bombs and explosives. While they’re there, they find out that the man they’re searching for is named Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson); a co-founder of the Expendables who would later betray the team for profits for weapons and who’s also believed to be deceased. Though Mel Gibson can’t be discussed these days without bringing up major controversy, it’s really nice to see him in a main role again, especially as the villain. His presence, though over the top, is very formidable and a ton of fun. Mel Gibson, good to see you again.
After Terry Crews gets critically injured during the mission, Stallone decides to break up the existing Expendables team because he quickly decides he doesn’t want to be responsible for their deaths. Because yes……we definitely didn’t want to see the classic team together for more than twenty minutes…..at all. Good job, movie. That’s when a retired mercenary named Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) comes along to help Stallone make a new team with young, fresh members. Along the way, we are introduced to a line of young and very forgettable characters, until we come across the scene-stealer of the film in Galgo (Antonio Banderas); an expert sharpshooter and expert chatterbox. They all come together to bring down Stonebanks and his followers.
Though this movie can be entertaining at times, it’s a complete shell of the first two films. The first two Expendables films were gory, unapologetic and extraordinarily entertaining. The Expendables 3 is a watered-down, lazy version of the first two films. Plain and simple. The change from an R rating to a PG-13 rating is so evident that you can’t even hide it. There are just some formulas you can’t alter or recreate. And this attempt at altering this franchise falls flat on its face.
Grade: C (Sly Stallone’s cheesy acting with a voice you can hardly understand? A+)