Sylvester Stallone is considered by some to be one of the greatest action legends ever. With movies like Rambo and Rocky, who could blame them? Unlike other stars though, this actor hasn’t stopped doing what he loves, and making sure he is the center of it all. Over the last few years, Stallone has brought back his iconic characters for one last run to close up the chapters, and some of them are done quite well. However, one series of his continues to build steam, with the promise that each installment has more action. That’s right I’m talking about the Expendables, the film collection that gathers the greatest action stars together to do what else…but bring more action. The last installment failed to thrill me, and when I saw yet another sequel I wondered how much more action Stallone could stuff into a two hour time period. Has time withered this series to a moot film, or does Stallone have some magic still left in him?
To start Expendables 3 is much better than the second, despite stuffing more action stars into an already overcrowded film. While the opening fight lacked any real bite, a mere display of idealized gun accuracy and a few booms, the action started to pick up. Fans will be thrilled to watch the cast pull out some of the classic moves that we fell in love. Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes in particular had some of my favorite moves of the cast, mixing up the overzealous gunplay with some fancy knife work and mixed martial arts. Stallone also has a little balance, though he glorifies his ability to wield a pistol like a modern day Italian cowboy. Yet the action isn’t just limited to the old cast, but has actually been spread out amongst the newcomers to the group. The young Expendable cadets open up with some decent CGI and choreographed stunts, and then have a mission that is a bit more strategy than gung ho rebellion. However, don’t fret because action and explosion junkies will still get the fight they have been craving in the final fight, which has set the bar high for this reviewer on awesome action. Both old and new alike get their hands dirty with taking down the enemies at hand. Stunts, guns, fists, and other weapons all converge into an epic fight that, if this were to be the last installment, ends the series well.
As for the story, well it’s definitely not the worse thing I’ve seen, but it is a simple plot that is built around bringing the boom. It’s a story of revenge and fighting old ghosts as Stallone tries to face his demons with the minimum number of casualties. Of course being a Stallone movie, something always has to go wrong, and as revealed in the trailers, all of the new cadets conveniently get captured. Stallone’s character though does get to share some more backstory and the villain is much better than Van Dam. Mel Gibson is an iconic bad guy, whose qualities consist of strategy, shrewdness, training, and the all-important psychotic edge. All of these features have been honed from his previous roles, and his instability seems natural, and for once not overstretched in the film. He keeps his emotions in check and makes a good target to bind the group together. Even newcomers Kelsey Grammer and Antonio Banderas bring some drama to the works providing again a little more character to the war torn studs.
As for the humor, this reviewer loved the comedy the writers wrote for us. The corny puns and one-liners have been replaced with well-timed comedy, either in the form of an insult or sarcasm. Banderas in particular had me cracking up, as his codependent nature and childlike obsessions had him spouting like a comedic fool. Other lines involve making fun of the hilarious quotes from some of the other stars. All of the humor is integrated into the movie well, keeping the action junkie edge going and the brotherhood as strong as ever. Stallone even has a few lines that make you laugh, but whether it’s because of the writing or the fact that he still sounds like he has a mouth full of marbles.
Despite the all the improvements in number three though, it is still not perfect. The balance of stars was better, but some of them get little screen time, involvement in this installment. Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews in particular got gipped the most, only bringing some humorous dialog and an occasional potshot here and there. They still fit in with the team, but this reviewer can’t find much use for all these stars if you are not going to actually use them. Even veterans like Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger are also robbed of their splendor, the latter getting decent screen time, but less action. Li’s stunts and martial arts seem to be a thing in the past, as he’s been reduced to firing a fake gun for his time in the film. Even the ending scene is a bit cheesy for me, though fans who have a similar brotherhood are going to be relating to it and raise their popcorn buckets in honor.
Expendables 3 was much better than the middle installment and was a great popcorn-munching blockbuster for the summer. Fans of the series I encourage to go, despite the limitations, because it is a fitting “end” to the series. Even if you are a rookie to the series, the audio effects and explosions make it worth the trip for the action fan. My scores for Stallone’s work are:
Movie Overall: 6.5