Movie Review: The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3 was…..*sigh*.

I really don’t want to talk about this film right now because it was such an utter disappointment. Alas, I trudge on.

The Expendables was something that was a long time coming. Action die-hards had wanted to see the biggest action heroes come together for one big explosion since the 80’s. Had it been done during the 80’s with a solid story structure and character arcs, this theoretical movie could have been one of the best. With that said, it never happened and so we retreated back into our man caves and continued to watch ceaseless violence, decent but never overachieving acting and stories that were questionable at times. I’m not saying we haven’t been blessed with the material we’ve been given. How can you complain when you got Rocky AND Rambo from just one of these guys? Die Hard, Predator, the titles are truly endless. However, there was still a niche, a void in all of our hearts because the film with the big three of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger never came out of the fantasy realm and into the real world.

The Expendables, the first one, gave us that. A projectile and gut-busting epic with some of the best in the business plus some witty dialogue and an amicable story line, The Expendables was not the perfect model but was certainly awesome nonetheless. Yes, we can debate what could have been better and about whether Stallone should have written and directed and all that, but it was what it was and it was confident in what it was doing. It was all fun and while it remained light-hearted throughout, it still managed to bring a serious undertone into the equation.

Then there was The Expendables 2, where more big names joined the route and while this film struggled with poor villain writing as did the first, it was still a phenom for the genre.

So, The Expendables 3 came in with a lot of gas and yet gave us an incredibly bland trailer with a long cast list of names that made me scratch my head. Glen Powell? Victor Ortiz? Kelsey Grammer? Wesley Snipes? Kellen Lutz? Some of these people flat-out didn’t belong in a movie and others didn’t belong in this movie.

The Expendables 3 missteps where quite a few films I’ve watched recently trip: in getting over-involved in the film’s message rather than the film itself. This is on Stallone although I understand what he’s trying to say. By bringing in a list of no-name actors and depositing them in front of the spotlight, Stallone is trying to illustrate the sad but obvious fact that Stallone’s career is coming to a close as are most of the action stars we’ve grown up with. Some of the dialogue emboldens that message as do some of the plot anchor points but in terms of story and the characters we’re viewing makes no sense whatsoever, which I’ll get to later.

We don’t know how many years are left, but a new generation of action heroes is coming. We don’t know who most of them are yet, but a few are poking out. With that being said, I think it’s fair to say that Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell, Kellen Lutz and Ronda Rousey are not it.

Just looking at the filmographies of this quartet makes me cringe. Glenn Powell has survived as a TV actor. Ronda Rousey is a professional fighter and while she most deserved to be in this out of the four, has no acting credentials, which was blatant during my viewing. Kellen Lutz’s most notable role was in Twilight. Need I say more? Finally, Victor Ortiz is a boxer who is incorporated in no notable boxing sequences during the film and his most regarded accomplishment outside the ring was appearing in Dancing With the Stars.

Again, I understand Stallone is trying to usher in a new group of action stars but none of these people will become action legends let alone decent actors. If Stallone wanted to make his message more meaningful, bringing in some actors we’ve heard of would have been a good start. I would have suggested Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston and Michael Fassbender. They’re all younger guys who look like they could be the new faces of the genre yet not one was given a role for this.

Prioritizing his theatrical farewell note over this franchise’s once promising company of dangerous misfits leaves us with an incredibly dull and uneventful screenplay that demonstrates little resemblance to its two predecessors. No character furtherance nor refreshing life reflections occur and the light-hearted tone of dark humor we’re familiar with is never introduced. The references to previous blockbuster hits and corny one-liners weren’t included in the script, instead making room for the untalented quartet I mentioned above and Stallone’s meanderings. I always found these jabs to be quite effective. Reminiscence was an aspect I always enjoyed because it reminded us, one last time, to appreciate the past before we got absorbed with the revolutionary visual effects of today.

Without the humor, the film is bottle-necked into expositional dialogue, character progression and life platitudes and sadly this film’s sharpshooters only find one of the three targets and even more depressing, the least of the three: expositional dialogue. One of the more common cinematic sins, a film’s layering of expositional dialogue is usually a strong indicator to a film’s success or upheaval. Too much nine times out of ten means a bad movie. This was one of the nine.

Our go-to ragtag team is broken up because Stallone’s Ross decides it’s too dangerous now even though there’s no clarification for his change of heart and audiences with significant brain activity will come to the unanimous decision that this story turn is for the worst. The rest of the film only solidifies our assumption as we’re stuck with Mr. Expositional himself, Kelsey Grammer, as he introduces the newbs to the film industry and then leaves. Truly no point having him here aside from a paycheck. All of the new additions to the cast are bores aside from Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson who don’t get enough screen time to make as large of an impact as they could have. Jet Li is pretty much excluded from The Expendables for the second installment in a row even though his chemistry with Dolph Lundgren in the original was fine-tuned.

Antonio Banderas is the stand-out of this disheveled mess and all he’s doing is rambling and talking as fast as he can. That’s it. Pretty dumb but when the film’s as uneventful as this is, that’s a high note.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Guardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Red Dawn(2012)MaleficentRise of the Planet of the ApesTransporter 2Battle: Los Angeles)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersAnchorman: The Legend of Ron BurgundyThe TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998))

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage PointThe Starving GamesYou’re Next)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and Aliens)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (WatchmenClash of the TitansA Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3)

My score for The Expendables 3: 54.

Scroll up to the poster of this film real quick. What do you see? A lot of names and tiny faces. That’s how large of a role each of these people get to play in the film. The Expendables 3 suffers from OBCLD, or Over-Bloated Cast List Disease. The material doesn’t do any of these stars justice with the exception of Powell, Rousey, Lutz and Ortiz, but only because these four couldn’t do any better than this. I honestly think Stallone picked names out of a hat to collect these four tragedies. The action scenes were surprisingly mediocre, not even close to their usual standards. It seems fair to say that The Expendables 3, unlike the previous two installments, is definitely expendable and stands as one of the leaders of the League of Extraordinarily Disappointing Sequels.

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