Plot: After Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) is nearly killed, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) disbands The Expendables (Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren and Weslet Snipes) in order to spare their lives from what lies ahead. What lies ahead is a suicide mission with a new, younger Expendables team (Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz) who are going to take down Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) — The Expendables co-founder turned notorious arms dealer.
The Expendables 3 delivers on everything you could hope it to be — a big, loud, run-and-gun, hyper macho adrenaline rush of a film filled to the brim with cheese ball dialogue, way too many in-jokes for its own good and enough silliness to make you you heartily.
Sure, the plot holes are the size of small countries, some of the dialogue is downright cringe-worthy and most of the new characters get little-to-no development, but were you really planning on seeing this film to see how well they would develop Kellan Lutz’s character?
Didn’t think so.
The big question for EX3 is the following — can it top the original two? The answer is yes and no.
EX3 easily outclasses the first Expendables film. As much as that film has become an all-time guilty pleasure, it’s still riddled with way too much dialogue and exposition for its own good, causing it to drag in numerous areas. With that being said, EX3 does not top EX2. That film really embraced itself in a very oddly meta sorta way — I mean Chuck Norris making a Chuck Norris joke? Dolph Lundgren’s character is a hopeless romantic and a certified genius? And that airport shoot-out? That’s just pure gold.
What prevents it from topping the second film in the series, is its blatant, half-hearted attempt to sell audiences on the young Expendables team. Sure, the writers and producers want to introduce and sell you on a newer, younger, hipper franchise, but no one is paying to see any of the younger stars outside of possibly Ronda Rousey. What people want from The Expendables is all the action stars of days gone by working together and doing silly things and killing thousands of faceless bad guys in even sillier ways.
But, there was a missed opportunity with this younger Expendable squad in the form of UFC superstar Ronda Rousey. The film had a chance to take a legitimately tough and charismatic female and put her on the level with Stallone and company (and build for future sequels including that rumored Expendabelles film). But they didn’t, opting to make Kellan Lutz the “young rival” of Stallone. Rousey, when given the chance to say more than just one word (which usually a disgusted utterance of the word “Men” after she kicks their ass) actually holds her own. They really could’ve had a lot of fun with her and Stallone, Snipes, Statham or Lundgren. They do give her a few nice moments with Antonio Banderas (more on him later), but otherwise she’s just kick-ass eye candy and that’s a shame.
However, the veteran additions to the Expendables franchise really paid off in spades. Kelsey Grammer has some really funny and well-acted scenes with Stallone. Their chemistry was genuine and fun to watch and it’s a shame Grammer wasn’t used more throughout the film. Wesley Snipes plays the Wesley Snipes role and had some fun moments with Jason Statham. Harrison Ford, replacing Bruce Willis as the requisite government heavy, is pitch-perfect in his grumpiness. Despite being extremely under-used, Mel Gibson nearly steal the movie with his limited time onscreen as the film’s big bad.
However, it’s Antonio Banderas who own the entire movie. As the motor mouthed Galgo, Banderas provides much-needed moments of hilarity and heart to the film. He intentionally overacts the hell of his role and it’s just so outlandish that it works.
Expendables 3 is not the best Expendable film to date, which is a little disappointing considering the cast assembled. But, despite all its shortcomings, the film accomplishes what it set out to do — be entertaining as all hell.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site and is beyond excited to be a Dad this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom