A perfect scenario is my beautiful girlfriend treating me to my cinematic action gods battle it out for two hours on a 75 foot screen. Friday night, I got my wish.
As each film opens with a slam bang beginning and this was no exception. Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and The Expendables are on a runaway train to rescue an old friend, Doc Death (Wesley Snipes) from a foreign dictator however, they do some nifty tricks with a helicopter and blow away about 20-30 anonymous henchmen. Right away, they have to make a regular drop in Somalia but then someone gets the drop on them and it turns out to be the co-creator of the Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). Leading to Barney ditching his team to find a 21st century version of his team. Yeah, we will get to that a little later.
Director Patrick Hughes follows Stallone and Simon West's technique of well choreographed action sequences mixing in cheesy CGI and man made action fit well enough together. When the bullets fall, body count increases and explosions become rampant. It's where the film hits its peak.
Stallone brings his tough guy exterior and ripped up bod with his charisma intact as usual, always good to see Jason Statham, Randy Couture and Dolph Lundgren still around to take down targets as they drop corny one-liners with ease like a lost script of Tango & Cash. Joining the team is Antonio Banderas' hysterical but ass-kicking Galgo who gets most of the laughs with his ability to stop a continuous thread of talking, replacing greedy Bruce Willis is a more capable Harrison Ford as CIA analyst Max Drummer (a little riff on Jack Ryan) who lands one-liners and also shows a sense of fun from Ford who later says, "It's the most fun I've had in a long time". Thankfully, the master of action brings his cigar-chewing charisma, Arnold Schwarzenegger uses some of his famous one-liners and sports his .50 CAL. The scene stealer though was Gibson. He plays Stonebanks as an over-the-top suave psychopath. Seriously, when you see the inevitable scene among Gibson and Stallone, he will have your eyes glued to the screen. It just shows truly good he is as an actor. I cannot name one film where he gave a bad performance not even Bird on a Wire, ugh bad memories,
Just like the films I named before, there are always flaws. It just depends on if its strengths outweighs its flaws.and it was when Barney goes recruiting. He meets Bonaparte (a gamed Kelsey Grammer) introducing us to Thorn (Glen Powell), a computer genius and a free climber. Yes, I said that right. Mars (Victor Ortiz), Luna (Ronda Rousey) who kicks a ton of ass but was probably the best "actor" out of this group and then came along the uncharismatic Kellan Lutz whose physique outweighs his acting daily. Trust me, I saw him as Hercules earlier this year. Lutz brings nothing to the table no matter how many stunts or effort at leadership, you do not buy it and thank goodness all four of them are captured which gets back to the formula of the first two films.
After Stonebanks plants his own revenge back on Ross...near the 90 minute mark where Hughes uses the kitchen sink philosophy and dumps every aspect of action, weaponry, stunts and fight sequence that you can think of. As I walked out of the theater, my mind was blown and I even forgave it for lack of blood and cursing. As I say farewell to my cinematic action gods, I leave with this. You will never, I mean never have this batch of action heroes again. The only one I can think of is Jason Bourne, excluding superheroes.
The Expendables III continues to show why guys like Stallone, Schwarzengger, Ford and Gibson knew how to fill the theater seats in the 80's and 90's with charisma and a sense of joy tapped in with well-choreographed and imaginative action sequences even with it being 20 minutes too long. This is indeed the right kind of farewell for action fans who grew up with Terminator, Indiana Jones, and Braveheart, Ignore the critics and see it for yourself.