Expendables 3: So Many Characters, So Little Time!

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After a mission goes wrong, Barney Ross decides to retire his team and recruit a bunch of (relative) youngsters. The result is a movie that runs for a bit over two hours and serves none of the characters well.

If all you want is a couple hours in an air-conditioned theater while stuff blows up real good onscreen, then Expendables 3 is your movie. If you’re looking for anything more than a rudimentary plot and cardboard characters, you will have to look elsewhere.

Expendables 3 opens with a daring rescue – except the rescue won’t co-operate until he destroys the super-secret black prison he’s been in four the last eight years. From there, the team heads off to capture an arms dealer to face a war crimes tribunal at The Hague – except that the arms dealer is someone else, entirely – Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a founding father of the Expendables who went rogue.

The guy whom the team rescued? Also an original Expendable called Doc (Wesley Snipes).

After the attempt to capture Stonebanks goes bad, nearly killing Caesar (Terry Crews), Ross retires his old team – Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) – much to their extreme displeasure.

With the aid of Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), he hires a new bunch – computer whiz, Thorn (Glen Powell), pragmatist Smilee (Kellan Lutz), female bouncer Luna (Ronda Rousey), hot dog Mars (Victor Ortiz) and older pest, Galgo (Antonio Banderas) – and tries once more to get Stonebanks.

Naturally, his old team is there to bail the young ‘uns out.

Both teams get support from old reliable Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the CIA guy responsible for hiring Barney in the first place, Drummer (Harrison Ford).

Technically, the film is well put together. Patrick Hughes takes what might be laughingly referred to as a script and manages to get all the explosions, fist fights and gunplay to fit into a hair over two hours – though there’s not really much he can do about the story.

There are a few good lines (Luna telling Barney, ‘It’s a good plan. For 1985!’ springs to mind) and some truly amazing stunts, but that’s not enough to make a good movie – not by half (or more). Plus, this is the first film in the franchise to aim for a PG-13 rating – it feels more like settling – and the result, for all its sound and thunder, just feels diluted.

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