The iconic action stars of the 80s are back again, and this time they brought along even more fun: 80s, 90s, and even todays stars. The Expendables is a franchise that keeps growing in numbers. They are not known for their story driven cinema, or their Oscar winning performances. It is action… non-stop, popcorn fun, action. I don’t go to these films expecting to be blown away by the script. Just the fun of seeing the stars I grew up on kicking ass, and that’s what they have delivered. The worry, is that now, The Expendables going into their third film, have gone from a hard R rating, to a PG-13 in an attempt to broaden their audience. A risk if you ask me. I am the demographic for these films, if they try to gain a younger audience, they risk losing the audience they have. So was the risk worth it, well, I’d say yes it was.
This go around the Expendables return, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This time, however, they are joined by the likes of Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Kellun Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Once again written by Sylvester Stallone and directed this go around by Patrick Hughes. I love both installments and actually believe the second is better. The puns are great, the action is awesome and the third installment doesn’t really disappoint.
The story follows Barney Ross, as he trades in his old brethren for a younger team, in hopes to spare the lives of his Expendables. He goes up against a founding father of the Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson) after the extraction of Stonebanks goes wrong, Barney and must once again enlist the back up of his brothers at arms.
Right off the bat, Gibson is the best thing about this film. He tows the line of crazy and psychopath so well, proving himself to still be one of the premier actors in the game. I for one hope this resurrects his career because it was fun seeing him again. There is a scene toward the middle of the film where he explains his motives to Stallone, it is almost chilling to watch Gibson upstage everyone.
If Gibson is the best part of this film, Banderas is a close second. As a nearly comic relief character, he channels his Desperado days and adds immense amount of humor and fun. You don’t know whether you want to kill this guy or die from laughter. Rousey was used perfectly, think Gina Carano in Fast 6. Snipes looked great, and makes me hope for a Blade 4. Harrison Ford takes over for Bruce Willis in this role, and actually doesn’t phone it in like Willis’ Church character in the past.
The PG-13 rating doesn’t necessarily hurt the film. Yes there are times when you wish there was terribly fake blood spatter, but they don’t skimp on the action. If you watch closely you kind of see that there was probably blood in the original cut and makes you think there will be a director’s cut DVD.
There is an actual bit of character development in this film. The second act of the film spends most its time developing the newbies, and Banderas. Problem is, that’s not why we are there. I want random explosions, I don’t necessarily need the details. It almost drags a bit in the film, but then the third act hits and we back to what we want from these films.
In the end, if you want deep story, logic, and believability, then yes you are going to whine and cry about this movie. But if you can sit back, and enjoy the stars we grew up and some new faces, doing what they do best, then you are going to have a good time at the theater. That’s right, thanks to a .2 bonus for a throwback Arnold “get to tha choppa” line, I’m giving Expendables 3 a Jeebus score of 4.1.
The Jeebus System explained:
I base films on what I call the Jeebus System, which is a 6 point grade with a possible .5 bonus. With a full 1 point given for entertainment value, story, SFX or cinematography, acting, and casting each, then a half point for direction and dialog each. Titles are given to each score, with “death penalty to all involved” to anything <.9. “You’ll see this on FXx a lot” for <1.9. “Redbox or Netflix it” for <2.9. “Check out the Matinee” for <3.9. “A good time at the theater” for <4.9. “Multiple viewings required” for <5.9. And finally, Jeebus-tacular for 6 or above.