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Movie review: 'The Expendables 3' is strange mix of previous two films

The Expendables 3

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The Expendables” is a franchise that has been strangely varied in tone. The first film was largely serious. The second film was a silly parody of action movies, and the actors in them. “The Expendables 3” is a mix of both those films. There are less silly situations and zinging catchphrases, but there’s also a villain named Conrad Stonebanks, so it’s just a little hard to take it seriously.

The cast of "The Expendables 3"
The cast of "The Expendables 3"Nu Image/Millennium Films

Directed by Patrick Hughes, “The Expendables 3” brings back Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the mercenary group The Expendables. After a mission goes wrong and Barney learns that his old friend, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson)—cofounder of the Expendables who went rogue—is still alive, he feels that he can’t put his current team in danger anymore, and retires them in favor of younger, more tech-saavy fighters. But as Barney and his new team go up against Stonebanks, he finds out that the new ways aren’t always the best option.

Besides Stallone, the film features the return of regulars Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. As with the previous films that are some new appearances as well, made by Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, and Antonio Banderas. They’re all entertaining in their way, but little room is left for character development with the new crew, with includes Victor Ortiz, Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, and Ronda Rousey. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if these characters weren’t established as having personal problems early on that are subsequently abandoned. For instance, Smilee (Lutz) has problems with authority and is compared to Barney early on, but then we barely see him for the rest of the movie. Rousey’s Luna is a poor excuse to fit a girl into the cast. While “The Expendables 2” had a female character who was integral to the plot, Rousey is just there to be there, her face frozen in a perpetual sneer. Unfortunately, these are issues that any movie with a cast this large has; it’s nearly impossible to make room for everybody within two hours or so. Banderas’ Galgo, the goofball in the group, is given the most development out of any of the new characters.

The film does have some pretty great action sequences, although they mostly take place in the beginning (which is actually a more fun scene than the climax) and the very end, leaving not-as-much interesting content in between. If you’re looking for an entertaining action movie, this film will be satisfying, but just barely. It should have been more fun, like its predecessor was, instead of trying to take a not very serious plot too seriously.

Runtime: 126 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language.

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