With Patrick Hughes taking over at the helm, The Expendables return for a third outing, as Sylvester Stallone revisits Barney Ross, alongside his close associate Jason Statham playing Lee Christmas. In this endeavour the gang of mercenaries free a former member, Doc (Wesley Snipes) from confinement, as they face a challenging task ahead – locking horns with the barbaric war criminal Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). Barney has doubts that his ageing, veteran group of Expendables are ready to take down this elusive, nefarious villain, so he recruits a few younger warriors in their place.
The Expendables 3 welcomes a host of new actors, as joining the likes of Snipes and Gibson, also comes Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kellan Lutz. However with such a huge, ensemble cast, it doesn’t truly allow anybody to shine or show off their acting credentials. It’s almost like a charity pop single: everybody is given a line or two to sing, but nobody a full chorus. It’s a shame this is the case, as when called upon, Banderas gives a reasonably layered performance, while Gibson turns in a commendable performance as the villain of the piece.
Yet the biggest shortcoming of this movie, is its 12A certificate. As a result, the action sequences are watered down accordingly, and for a film full to the brim with violence and death, unfortunately, we don’t really see any of it. It seems counter-productive, because the target audience for this film are those riddled with nostalgia, hoping to see their favourite-ever action heroes join forces. The whole point is that this is like a throwback to old, classic movies where hyper-violence took precedence, so to compromise that notion just to gain a new generation of fans goes against the entire point.
Where The Expendables franchise does come into its element, however, is within the barbed, tongue-in-cheek approach taken; with a series of witty, self-referential and self-deprecating one-liners to amuse the masses. The problem is, such moments are few and far between, and the rest of this picture is made up of nonsensical action sequences that have little to no bearing on the thin narrative we’re supposed to abide by. There will undoubtedly be a fourth addition to come, but honestly, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if The Expendables hung up their boots once and for all.