‘The Expendables 3’ breathes new life into aging franchise


The Expendables 3 (2014)

Directed by Patrick Hughes

7/10  PG-13

The old has-beens that crowd the cast of “The Expendables 3” have nothing to lose. Most are in their 50s and 60s (the oldest, Harrison Ford, is 72), and they’ve probably found that action movies aren’t as easy as they used to be. Action makes their arthritis act up. But as monotonous and careless as their line delivery is (I’m looking at you, Mr. Stallone), these geezers still have what it takes to make one hell of an explosive summer blockbuster.

Barney (Stallone) has disbanded his team of Expendables (Couture, Snipes, Lundgren, and Statham), saying they’re too old for his next suicide mission. In their place, he finds (with the help of Kelsey Grammar) some new bloods (Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz, Rhonda Rousey, and Glen Powell) to help him take out his oldest foe, Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who helped Barney start the Expendables program all those years ago. But when the new kids on the block get napped by the ever-scheming arms dealer Stonebanks, Barney brings back his old crew, plus some old pals (Schwarzenegger and Li) and a new face (Antonio Banderas) to help him fight what could be their last battle.

Dolph Lundgren in The Expendables 3 (2014)

When it comes to the star-studded cast of “The Expendables 3,” the A in A-list stands for action. Stallone. Schwarzenegger. Ford. Gibson. Banderas. Snipes. Li. Lundgren. Statham. The list goes on. But as the old-timers drone on monotonously (with the exception of Banderas, who’s actually a hilarious and eccentric addition), the new guys (and girl) breathe new life into this franchise. Their quick wit even livens up some of the vets. Mel Gibson does what he can with an expendable script from the writing team of “Olympus Has Fallen.” He’s better than his lines. The same can be said for Wesley Snipes, another new addition, who has a lot of fun in his limited screen time. Real-life fighters Couture, Rousey, and Ortiz have the fighting down, but they’re a sight for sore ears when they have dialogue to suffer through. They’re better off talking with their fists. As for the others, you get what you expect.

“The Expendables 3” also learned from “2” when it comes to what we like to see and hear. Where the original gave us a lot of story we didn’t care about, the second spoon-fed us enough action to last for a lifetime. Perfect. But also, “2” embraced its cheesy action flick personality by giving us references to tons of other action movies. “3” follows suit. An awesome one-liner from Stallone reminds us of Judge Dredd, Ford harkens back to his pilot days as Han Solo, and a fistfight between a former fictional boxing great and a former fictional hothead cop looks all-too-comfortable.

I dread the day the Expendables are permanently disbanded, but why do they have to be? What isn’t to love about a franchise which stars teams of celebrities shooting guns and throwing punches? These guys might get too old soon, but the idea can never die. Long live the Expendables.

2 thoughts on “‘The Expendables 3’ breathes new life into aging franchise

    1. I think, even despite its flaws, I enjoyed it more than the first two. Even though “The Expendables 4” has already been announced, I thought this felt like a great franchise capper. It has that closure to it that the second one didn’t. Thanks for reading!

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