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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3227)

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The Expendables 3 
The Dependable Expendables
2.5/4 stars

I don't know if it was the fact I was watching the unrated cut vs. the theatrical PG-13, but I actually think The Expendables 3 is better than The Expendables 2 - though it still suffers from issues. It's true that the series is beginning to show its age - as much as the main actors - and this could very well be the last hurrah - but at lease they went out with a big bang.

The opening scenes are a lot of fun - we have a prison transport train rescue - and we get the first glimpse of Wesely Snipes joining our merry band of misfits heroes. Snipes has been out of the spotlight for awhile (he even pokes fun at himself with the "tax evasion" line) but it's nice to see he hasn't lost much of his step. As a knife-throwing ex-medic, he often rubs Lee Christmas (action mainstay Jason Statham) the wrong way and their banter is quite fun.

After this explosive scene, we are whisked away to a mission to take down a major arms dealer in Somalia. We are treated to the first view of our main villain, an ex-Expendable who joined the dark side, Stonebanks. Whatever you think about Mel Gibson's personal life - he really does make an excellent villain - he plays it to the hilt (sometimes a bit too much) but works quite well in the role.

Then the movie slows down as Expendable leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) tells his current (and aged team) to stand down while he scours the lands for a more hip, younger team. Thanks to a little help from Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer - in a brief but well-rounded role) who tracks down some candidates including MMA female standout Ronda Rousey, boxer (turned weapons expert in this film) Victor Ortiz, a hacker/extreme sports fan played by Glen Powell and the "rugged, anti-authority all-around badass" represented by Kellan Lutz. Keep an eye out for a parkour construction worker who really wants to join the team - but is turned down - and is played by Antonio Banderas - who has, on the surface, an annoying personality, but turns out to be one of the more interesting characters in the entire film.

Anyway, following a botched operation everyone (new and old) finds themselves in some -akistan fake country, surrounded by a corrupt army (complete with tanks and helicopters) not to mention a seriously angry Gibson. Let's just say the entire movie suddenly turns into a video game first-person shooter as enemy bodies pile up like so much cordwood and everyone gets a standout fight/moment to cap off this bonkers, over-the-top action slugfest leading to an insane finale that only The Expendables could pull off.

The main problem with this series is that with so many characters - almost none of them are given anything more than a cursory development. There is no depth here - no real reason to care about any of them - they are here to chew bubble gum and kick ass - and there is no bubble gum in this movie. No one - not Harrison Ford, not, Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Snipes - are given much of any motivation other than "kill this guy... because" - and that's the movie in a nutshell.

Granted, if you want action - this does the trick, even it oversteps and becomes a bit much (especially during that final showdown) at times. But unlike the second entry - the actors seemed to be having a better time - treating it more like a class reunion than a job - having fun, mouthing off, bouncing off each other - and that camaraderie really drives the film and makes it more watchable.

The series may be winding down (I'm still waiting for this all-female spinoff that was at one time in the works) but I think the third entry turned out a bit better than I expected and it was a very fun watch.


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