Movie Review – The Expendables 3 (2014)

Director: Patrick Hughes

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Kelsey Grammer, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz and Arnold Schwarzenegger 

I’m pretty sure that’s everyone. 

In The Expendables 3 Barney is having a bit of an existential crisis. After running into an old partner who he thought was dead (Gibson) Barney fires the rest of the team and brings in some younger recruits to take down Stonebanks. However, after that mission goes awry he has to rely on the old guard to rescue the new team, take down Stonebanks and live to see another day. 

While I love that all these actions stars have been assembled for these films, I thought the first two lacked some of the earnestness that came with the classic 80s movies. Instead of revelling in the glory of their heyday they became almost a parody of themselves and the mugging to the camera was especially painful in The Expendables 2. I mean, the exchange between Schwarzenegger and Willis in the airport was just painful. “I’ll be back.” “You’re been back enough, I’ll be back.” Who talks like that?! It felt forced and tired, so I went into Expendables 3 with a bit of wariness but actually I really, really enjoyed it. I think it’s definitely the best one out of the three. There’s good action, less of the forced humour, and it feels like they want to replicate the kinds of movies they used to make rather than simply make fun of themselves. 

It’s not a perfect film though, and I think the cast is really bloated. A big deal was made of Snipes’ appearance but aside from an explosive introduction he doesn’t have much to do. However, his presence does inject some much-needed energy and combined with Banderas (who steals the show), they inject new life, which is kind of ironic that it’s these two who do that rather than the young Expendables. Speaking of which, they’re okay and they have some nice interactions with the rest of the cast and most of them have their own thing to do. I love the idea of legacy and it reminded me of the X-Men issue where Professor X had to assemble a new team to rescue the original line-up, although it’s inverted here as the original team has to save the new ones. 

Anyway, yes, I thought the idea of legacy was done well and I liked how Barney had to realize that they were basically each other’s family. There were some poignant moments, especially towards the end as Barney noticed how much the new team resembled the old crew. 

The action set-pieces were great and some were astounding. I did think there was a lack of hand-to-hand combat, and the end fight was anti-climactic (although Stallone did growl out a classic action-movie one-liner). A few other cute nods came in as well, like Arnie bellowing “Get to the CHOPPA!”, which was awesome, and didn’t feel jarring like the ones in the previous films. There were a few digs at Bruce Willis as well, and Harrison Ford seemed to be having fun, it was a shame they couldn’t find a way to give more things for Jet Li to do though, and I’m still annoyed that Van Damme wasn’t brought back as a good twin, but hopefully there’s still a chance for that if another is made. 

I liked most of the new additions and hope that at least Banderas and Snipes stick around. The action was good, and this one feels like what The Expendables should have been from the start. I liked the personal connection that Stonebanks had with Barney. Even if you were disappointed with the other films I’d recommend going to see this. It’s not perfect but it’s entertaining, but it is a shame that it’s so male-dominated because with the new team they did have a chance to include some more women, but I suppose we’ll have to wait for The Expendabelles for that! 


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