You can tell by the tagline of the above poster of how poorly this film is written. Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Couture, Crews and Schwarzenegger (still need Wikipedia to spell that correctly) return in this feature. While the list of new veteran actors include Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes (who is finally out of prison after 3 years), Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, and Mel Gibson who plays the antagonist (and acts the paramount throughout the running time). And the range of latest young thespians are Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell and Victor Ortiz.
Yes, we have a super-action packed line-up of stars. What we don't have is a sane script that all of the actors could have properly done justice to. Let me start with the negative points of the movie, although I began with that from the get-go.
Firstly, the plot. The ending can be guessed by any casual adrenaline movie-watcher after viewing the first 10 minutes! I mean this is the third venture of The Expendables series. Stallone should have at least taken an extra year to release this film if he wanted a critically acclaimed version. The Expendables 3 is directed by Patrick Hughes and this makes it only his 2nd feature-film. And kudos to his directing ability as the newbie did a fantastic job of handling such a colossal cast. I'm only praising the guy as I am outlining the facts of this film. Now to continue the negativity. The script is penned by the husband-wife duo Rothenberger/Benedikt and Stallone himself (who has also co-written the screenplays of the first 2 installments).
Rothenberger/Benedikt have only one writing credit before this film and that is the 2013 White House invasion action-thriller Olympus Has Fallen which starred Gerard Butler. And was a pretty damn good movie. So I expected more from them or at least at the same level as OHF when they co-wrote this script. The storyline follows Barney Ross (Stallone) recruiting younger blood for his fight against Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), the Expendables co-founder who is wanted by the CIA.
The tension played between Ross and Stonebanks is mediocre and could have been written more fluently. The predictability level of this venture is high above the bar. I don't mind the plot outline but there was no hard-work done in elevating the thrill throughout the 126-minutes run. Even the universally panned Sabotage (2014) did a better job at creating a dread-filled atmosphere.
Also, I saw no need for a younger cast of actors. The Expendables 3 should have added more villains like Steven Seagal or their initial idea of casting Jean-Claude Van Damme again (as the identical twin brother of the main villain in The Expendables 2). There should have been additional opposing characters but all we get is Gibson. The latter who is an old-time action star but never starred in bad-ass films like the majority of the other cast members. So I don't understand the point of only giving him a diabolical role. Stallone should have shunned the idea of budding performers and added more fiends. Also, Bruce Willis was missed in his role as Mr. Church as Ford could not exercise the same level of dialogue delivery in his role as CIA officer Max Drummer.
The first two films had a variety of villains played by awesome entertainers like Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Gary Daniels, Scott Adkins and Jean-Claude Van Damme respectively. Here, we only have Gibson while we had at least two in the start-up installments. This factor and the plot are the worst attributes of the third part.
Now, for the pros: excellent acting by Gibson, Banderas and Stallone. The trio give their best blockbuster performances. The most praise I can give is to Gibson who really nails the bad-guy role. Another major pro is the superb action scenes. Some are, I admit, over-top, but the majority aren't and they're so fun to watch in a theater. I have to recall that the first half-hour of dialogues are completely vague, but when the movie passes its thirty-minutes windows, the conversations between characters were penned quite humorously. And this I can only attribute to the third screenwriting credit.
The stunts are awesome, and when the action begins no one wants it to end. The whole atmosphere transforms into a Battlefield map, and we see so many explosions that some would've guessed Michael Bay had filmed this outing. Action is fantastically choreographed throughout the screen-time. And is the dominant highlight of this motion-picture. The Expendables 3 is undoubtedly is the predominant of the three in terms of action.
The Expendables has a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, whilst the sequel has a 65% approval on the latter website. Both these individual ratings are higher than the 3rd installment's. And I'm not at all surprised. But if you watch this with an action junkie's eye, and not a critic's, then you will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
So, The Expendables 3 is way better than the first in the series, but falls short in its totality to The Expendables 2. Not only is the 2nd part the most critically-acclaimed in the franchise, but also the most financially successful gathering $305m at a budget of $100 million. The Expendables 3 has a lesser budget of $90m, but with such a low-scoring start-up weekend it will not be as monetarily rewarding as its predecessor. It will probably end its worldwide run at $150m-$180m becoming the lowest grosser among the series.
That's not all folks. The Expendables 4 has already been announced and is confirmed to introduce former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan in a role. Just hope it has an above-average script.
The Expendables: 3/4.
The Expendables 2: 3.5/4.
The Expendables 3: 3/4.