Third time’s a charm for Sly
Sylvester Stallone continues to do his best to assemble every old school action movie star under the sun in one testosterone-fuelled blockbuster in this fun ‘threequel’.
Joining returning hard men like Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger are additions Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas.
Stallone’s Barney Ross is forced to turn to new blood for a personal battle against Gibson’s Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables’ cofounder and notorious arms trader.
After Simon West’s unforgivably dull second entry, Red Hill helmer Patrick Hughes proves a more effective replacement for Sly Stallone in the director’s chair this time out by overseeing the series’ best entry yet.
As well as recruiting fresh bone crunching buddies on camera, Stallone welcomes Olympus Has Fallen husband and wife writing duo Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt on board to join him on story duties.
The trio go down the Fast & Furious route by injecting the franchise with younger stars, better villains and more purpose – and upping the action ante.
Big-a** weaponry and explosions abound with this bunch of superheroes without super powers and while it’s still over-the-top, turnthe-brain-off carnage, Stallone and Co. make for much better company in their third outing.
All of the ‘old newbies’ add something; Snipes a few laughs early doors (including a nice in-joke about his real-life troubles), Gibson some delicious evil-doing as the trilogy’s best bad guy, a pre-broken leg Ford gruff officialdom and Banderas frenetic energy – the latter like a real-life Puss in Boots with ADHD.
Stallone continues to share a like able-enough bromance with Jason Statham’s ludicrously named Lee Christmas and eighties’ action fans will get a kick out of Schwarzenegger aping his Predator role.
The new ‘youngsters’ fare less well. They’re all saddled with underwritten characters and only Kellan Lutz – not quite plumbing the depths of his turn in The Legend of Hercules – and the series’ first female Expendable, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, are given much screen time.
With such a big cast it’s inevitable some are sidelined (hello Jet Li!) and the writing team still throw in the odd really dodgy one-liner (“I am The Hague”).
But they deserve credit for making the Expendables less invincible – hospital waiting room vigils, old age catching up with them – and peppering the film with what fans really came to see; spectacular set pieces.
A prisoner escape with a souped-up train kicks things off, a Mission: Impossible-style surveillance and techheavy kidnapping utilises brain over brawn and the tower block climax is like a mini-Raid with extra tanks.
Planning for the future it may be, but The Expendables 3 proves there’s plenty of life in the old dogs yet.
Ready to roll The muscle-bound gang join forces