The Expendables 3 review – still packs firepower

The Expendables 3 doesn’t run out of heat in third installment

Three films in now, you should know exactly what you’re in for with The Expendables 3. That will inevitably be disappointing for those expecting some thoughtful commentary on action from a collection of actors who starred in the biggest action hits of the 1980s and 1990s.

For viewers a bit more realistic with their expectations, The Expendables 3 is another crazy spectacle chock full of ridiculous action, bad puns and references to the stars’ glory days in a fitting finale to the 2014 summer blockbuster season. Take it seriously at your own risk, but it’s so much more fun to treat it like the old school action homage the series has always been.

The Expendables 3 Toll Road (Randy Couture), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone).

Director Patrick Hughes wastes little time staging an elaborate opening act. The Expendables — Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone, Escape Plan), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham, Fast & Furious 6), Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) — attack an armored train and spring founding member Doc (Wesley Snipes, Brooklyn’s Finest) from imprisonment.

Then it’s off to rendezvous with Caesar (Terry Crews) to take on their latest job — assassinating the criminal mastermind Stonebanks (a wickedly fun Mel Gibson having a good time playing the over the top bad guy). But Stonebanks has a history with the team and proves a very competent opponent.


After a teammate gets severely wounded on the mission, Barney disbands the team he’s come to regard as a family. Barney’s new CIA contact Drummer (Harrison Ford) isn’t happy that Stonebanks escaped and tells Barney he’s to be brought back alive.

The Expendables 3 - Sylvester Stallone and Kelsey Grammer

Barney has his pal Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer, Think Like a Man Too) round up a group he has no connection to — in essence, an expendable team of Expendables.

Through the standard new character introduction sequence, we meet tech whiz Thorn (Glen Powell, The Dark Knight Rises); weapons expert Mars (boxer Victor Ortiz); hand to hand dynamo Luna (MMA star Ronda Rousey) and daredevil Smilee (Kellan Lutz, The Legend of Hercules). Arnold Schwarzenegger (Sabotage) returns to reprise his role of Trench and Antonio Banderas joins the team as Galgo, a motor mouth scene-stealer who provides the film’s biggest laughs.

The Expendables 3 - Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford

Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, who previously teamed on the enjoyable Olympus Has Fallen, work in the new additions smartly without making the old guard seem obsolete. Dialogue or acting has never been a strong suit of the franchise and this one is no different although there are a few good lines that poke fun at the cast.

Ortiz and Rousey, in their film debuts, are expectedly stiff and Luna’s Men! catchphrase is hardly as cool as they likely envisioned. But honestly, who was going to a Stallone or Schwarzenegger movie for their dialogue even in the 1980s?

The Expendables 3 Mel Gibson stars as Conrad Stonebanks.

The differences between the two Expendables factions get ironed out in time for a video game-esque final act complete with tanks, helicopters and a small army. There’s no other way around it — the action is completely insane, but so much fun to watch play out. Hughes doesn’t get overwhelmed with the action and handles the various battles smoothly despite the number of characters in black military attire.

In a switch from the first two R-rated installments, Expendables 3 carries a PG-13 rating. That concerned some fans worried that the action would be severely toned down, but short of bodies being exploded and gratuitous blood sprays, this is hardly Expendables-light as the language and action gets as close as possible to an R-rating.

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I’m almost positive the world doesn’t necessarily need a fourth Expendables film, but if Stallone wants to get the band back together for another outing and they can remain this unapologetically fun, then there’s no reason to stop now.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Phil Bray/Lionsgate Publicity