The short story of The Expendables 3 is, that if you enjoyed the first two, you are in for much of the same enjoyment – it does exactly what it says on this franchise tin.

However, that’s not to say that it’s a bad movie – just a predictable one, and of course, as you’d expect, pretty far fetched. The action is top notch and the lines are cheesy as hell. If you haven’t seen the first two, but enjoy yourself some gun-toting badasses and a throwback to the 80s, you’ll still get the gist of number three in no time.

The plot of the third instalment is straight-forward. When Barney (Stallone) discovers that former Expendables co-founder turned arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson) is still alive he makes it his mission to stop him at all costs. However, Barney decides to invest in some new Expendable blood, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet. Yet like any ‘them versus us’ fight they realise they need to join forces to overthrow the super-baddy – in this case Stonebanks.

The problem for me with films like this is, there is no way you can be invested in any of the characters. It feels like a long stream of cameos for comedic effect. There is hardly any dialogue and the little there is, is either throwback lines that are nods to knowing audiences of  retro movies – cue Schwarzenegger shouting, ‘Get to the chopper!’ at every given moment, or Wesley Snipes referencing his recent real life tax evasion scandal, or even Jason Statham just playing the same character he always plays.

Any other dialogue is too naff and brooding to be taken seriously. There is no character development. Although, I suspect that even if there was, you wouldn’t feel an ounce of worry, sympathy or empathy for the expendables because they seem to mow down every living thing in their path whilst all coming out largely unscathed. Luckily, the pure fun of the action allows you to forgive and forget.

Another facet of the typical action movie that tends to put me off, and I predicted thanks to the Expendables, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach, is the overload of testosterone. Aside from the likes of Tarantino or Rodriguez, action directors never seem to serve up enough badass bitch.

That was until the introduction of Bantamweight UFC champion Ronda Rousey to the cast, however, as I suspected, The Expendables 3 still wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test.

She’s the only lady who features let alone speaks or fights in the male-heavy cast, and despite being a world champion fighter she gets the least airtime in the fight scenes. Instead, she is used as a pretty distraction for Stonebanks in the street, and her Expendables teammates make jibes at her for being a girl, to which she responds, ‘Men’ and shoots something angrily. Unfortunately, Ronda’s appearance, as I sadly suspected it would be, was just window dressing. It’s almost as if director Patrick Hughes said ‘oops we have no girls! – get one who fights but is still a hottie!’

Ronda’s character could have been better developed and the film wouldn’t have lost any of its comedic value if they had dropped the ‘lady’s first’ and ‘call me after this fight baby’ jokes.

This movie has some very cool action scenes, but in terms of plot and characters – with a few exceptions, Antonio Banderas for example is silly but very funny –  it is weak. This is a movie for turning off your brain and enjoying the ride back to the eighties with some vintage actors who still pack some impressive guns.

 

VERDICT: [rating=3]

 

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.