Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
It is the law of diminishing returns I guess.  For me, the first 'Expendables' was amongst the most entertaining nonsense I had seen in the new millennium.  The second one… well… it certainly had more action and a pretty awesome villain as portrayed by JCVD, but I didn't find it nearly as much fun as the first.  Now we have 'Expendables 3' which was, to be kind, disappointing.  This episode might've even had more action, and again the villain, Mel Gibson's character of Stonebreaker, was the best part, but the action felt like senseless overkill making this the least entertaining Expendables yet.
As per usual, our heroes open with some over top the action sequence, this time Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Coutre) are in their chopper shooting at some idiots on a train, the plan is to break out Original Expendable Doc (Wesley Snipes) who has been captive for some eight years.  Eight years.  The Expendables might want to examine their No Man Left Behind policy. 

This leads us to the next action sequence, where these cats are on a CIA gig to bring down some international gun runner, but to Barney's surprise it's his old friend Stonebreaker, also an original Expendable who went rouge back in the day, until Barney killed him.  As many people as Barney Ross has killed, and I believe this number to be in the millions, you'd think he know when a guy was really dead.  Regardless, the op goes straight to hell, Expendable Caesar (Terry Crews) gets all shot up in the process, Barney is sad and fires the rest of his team. 

Still, there's a job to do, new CIA honk Drummer (Harrison Ford), taking over for Bruce Willis because he wanted way too much money, has found where Stonebreaker is hiding out.  Not that this should be all that difficult as this is a guy who really isn't all that low key, and with the help of Expendable talent scout Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), Barney has rounded up the baby expendables for the next gig.  Because he doesn't want his old school expendables to die on the job.  He obviously doesn't mind if these kids die on the job. 
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Thing is, these kids bring all kinds of fancy skills to the team, like the ability to use a computer.  Not that any of their fancy skills stops them from being kidnapped.  Now Barney has to get the band back together to go save the kids, which shouldn't be all that hard since the enemy has numbers in the thousands, have tanks, blackhawks, rocket launchers, and the building that the kids are in is wired to blow in a few seconds.  Shouldn't be hard at all.  The Storm Trooper effect will be on full display in this one.

What's good about 'Expendables 3'?  A few things actually.  Mel Gibson for one, as he actually brought a real live, living and breathing character to the screen in a way that only a pro like Mel Gibson can do.  Either that or there was so much cardboard walking around that it just seemed that way, but regardless, anytime Stonebreaker was on the screen, which wasn't near enough, 'The Expendables' was infinitely more interesting.  Another thing that worked, at least in the first half, was that this was the most humorous installment, with a lot of that humor coming via the expert comedic timing of Kelsey Grammer.

What didn't work, at least in my opinion, was the introduction of the baby expendables.  I think I know why the baby expendables were introduced, get some new blood in the mix so that young people might travel to the multiplex to see this film.  The failing of that is that young people really don't go see these kinds of movies no matter how young and hip the kids are in them.  Plus screenwriter Stallone seemed to care less about these kids than even Barney did since the bare minimum of care went into developing these characters.  Stonebreaker has these kids strung up, prepped to slaughter them, and quite honestly the audience could care less.  In fact, looking at the end credits and seeing Stallone credited as the screenwriter, what was amazing was that somebody actually wrote this junk.

But obviously no one really walks into an Expendables movie looking for deep characterizations, we go for the action.  There is plenty of that, but as it has been proven over and over again, action mated to bland characters, no matter how spectacular, usually leads to bland action.  Just characters mowing down faceless goon after faceless goon.  Even Barney's final showdown with Stonebreaker was lackluster, unlike Barney's final showdown JCVD's character in the previous movie.  It probably didn't help that we were charmed by this villain, more so than any other character in the movie, so we were semi-pulling for him. 

I was one of the biggest champions of the Expendables, but now the diminishing returns has me doubting that there will even be a part four, and sadly, I don't think we would be looking forward to it anyway.
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