Does violence sell more than sex does? In the medium of film, the answer is yes. Look at the most popular American films abroad and you’ll find a list comprised of action-adventure titles. It doesn’t have to graphic, but shooting the bad guys is a universal theme all nations latch on to. But in order to create a movie people want to see, you need a story. Or, in the case of “The Expendables” franchise, a massive call sheet of stunt casting.
Once again hatched from the mind of writer/producer/star Sylvester Stallone, the third film in “The Expendables” franchise returns to the world of the ragtag mercenary team. While on a mission to track down a notorious drug lord, Barney (Stallone) uncovers the real identity of their target: a founding member of the Expendables gone rogue (Mel Gibson). Outgunned and fearful of getting his friends and teammates killed, Barney sets off to gather a group of new recruits. With a new legion of followers, he sets off to kill the man he long thought was dead.
The appeal of “The Expendables” is two-fold: intentional emphasis on casting at the expense of character development, and the way it celebrates the cast’s previous accomplishments. Each film, Arnold Schwarzenegger gets to poke fun at his earlier work. In the latest film, Wesley Snipes makes light of his recent incarceration. The humor, especially the incidental, connects with the audience.
Entries one and two were aggressively violent and embraced it. As if to show its intended growth, the film has a PG-13 rating and a group of characters far removed from franchise stars. This less graphic violence nature doesn’t register, as “The Expendables 3” is just as violent as its predecessors. But by eliminating the appearance of blood (a common PG-13 tactic to avoid an R rating) and the swirling shoots don’t allow much of the carnage to really get full appreciation.
Of the three films, this one has the most eclectic cast. Welcome additions of the always-enjoyable Antonio Banderas as a motor mouth, an MMA fighter, and the thankfully grumpy Harrison Ford keep the story appear fresh. Again, the story is thin and the dialogue is overtly masculine, but at this point the franchise exists to perpetuate itself. The only issue with the expanded cast is the need to dial back screen time for some of the original members.
“The Expendables 3” a decline in quality for the previous film. Even with new faces and the injection of a younger element, it definitely wears as the climax approaches. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Check your local listings for showtimes and theaters (click here)