There is a lot less humor in The Expendables 3 than there was in previous installments. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of chuckles to be had from this series that doesn't take itself too seriously… but this is a story of vengeance and paying for one’s past in the present.
The headline in The Expendables 3 arrives on several fronts. Bruce Willis didn’t return, but franchise creator Sylvester Stallone more than made up for it by adding action superstars Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas and a slew of up-and-coming stars for some young blood.
After witnessing the film, we see the role those young'uns play and why the action franchise known for the novelty of seeing '80s and '90s action heroes back in fighting form veered in the direction it did by adding Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz and Glen Powell.
First, the film begins with an action sequence (as they always do) that is by far the tops of the series. The gang is busting Wesley Snipes out of jail (more specifically a speeding train heading to jail). We learn how Snipes is connected to the Expendables and that he’s a little bit off his rocker.
Then, before he can set foot on U.S. soil, he joins the team for a mission to take down some bad-ass dude who’s doing some really bad-ass things. Turns out, it’s Mel Gibson’s Stonebanks, a founding Expendable with Stallone who was thought to be dead. Instead, he's become an international arms dealer of the worst kind. The mission goes horribly wrong and Stallone decides that it’s time for him to retire the gang (Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture).
Thus, enter the new crew -- introduced in The Expendables 3 trailer. But this is no ordinary mission. Going after Stonebanks is hairy and he’s going to need everybody, which of course means Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ford (who we learn is a character that has loomed large over the first two movies, but was never seen).
The action is brutal, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from a The Expendables movie. We’re not sure in what world this film is rated PG-13, where the previous ones were R. But, it’s all action movie violence which means thousands die, but it’s OK because they’re “bad.”
Stallone actually shows some solid acting skills, and it’s largely in scenes with newbie Kelsey Grammer, playing an old friend who helps Stallone’s Barney Ross find new recruits. Their scenes together are electric and their screen chemistry is surprisingly off the charts. In future installments -- let’s just get this out there -- we need more of Grammer and Stallone together!
We don’t want to give away too much in terms of what specifically Ford, Banderas, Snipes and the other newbies (including the young crew) do and how that plays into the plot.
But, it has to be stated in our The Expendables 3 review that by turning this film away from straight action with humor laced throughout into a vengeance tale centered on a long ago falling out, it actually has more teeth than previous installments. In fact, we feel that Stallone is just scratching the surface of what he can do with this franchise.
Lastly, it has to also be stated that Gibson is electrifying as our villain. There is one scene in particular between him and Stallone where he puts on a clinic and shows why the man is -- despite everything else -- one fine actor.
Check out how it all got started and watch The Expendables online.