I enjoyed The Expendables 3 more than I thought I would. Nostalgic eye candy. These guys are good. Fast paced action. Good acting. Mediocre script. Predictable plot. But fun to see these boys strut their superstar stuff. Yet I wonder with all the excellent production values why there wasn't a more creative plot? Of course, Stallone wroteThe Expendables 3 with the help of Creighton Rottenberger, Katrin Benedickt and David Callaham. Yes, a woman was involved in this homage to machismo.
Barney (Stallone) must add to his team of expendables with newbies for a battle with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), the notorious arms dealer, wanted at The Hague alive to go on trial for his war crimes. The 'alive' part makes Barney's battle a bit challenging. Directed by Patrick Hughes the action film is fast, but some of the battle scenes are too long, too chaotic, too too. The finale is one which Stallone fans will cheer and the audience did, too. His sense of humor is still alive, well and in Rocky style still there for us to cheer -- if a big hokey, but by this point who cares. Not me. I was too busy watching the bulging biceps to care about this idiotic plot.
Equal time is in order for each expendable and one wonders just how Sylvester Stallone got this group together. "I could have gone for you thirty years ago," Ronda Rousey says to Stallone. Gracious of Stallone to make fun of his aging. He is a magnificent 68 and after a plug search of the entire cast, I did not see any in sight though I am sure some lurked beneath the comb overs. I also did not see any women in sight. Oh, yes, there is one. Ronda Rousey. She is tough like this team of testosterone. But it is youth that steals the thunder and has its appeal when 29 year old Kellan Lutz, (a total ten) and a cherubic 25 year old Glen Powell, give us an opportunity to compare the young'uns to the elders who hang in there to light up the screen. Stallone, of course, takes major camera time and is the champion of the soulful stare. The silent, sensitive tough guy with a heart. Kelsey Grammar's part is one of the smallest, but he steals his scenes from Stallone because he is just that good. Fresh out of jail for tax evasion Wesley Snipes is fun and funny and has a line about tax evasion that ignites the audience. Antonio Banderas's early delivery is forced and awkward, but once his character gets going he is a fresh breath of comic relief while Harrison Ford is the champion in the acting department and age does not seem to disturb his craggy look. Arnold Schwarzenegger is awkward in his opening scenes and at 67 looks more weathered than most of these boys, but he gets it up for the finale and shines in typical mayoral splendor, cigar in mouth tough guy that he is. Jason Stratham portrays his usual appeal as a dependable expendable named Lee Christmas.
Uber alles is Mel Gibson as the villainous Conrad Stonebanks who holds The Expendables 3 together with his sheer nastiness. And he is oh, so good at this. But it is Stallone's final line that is the pay dirt the audience is waiting for. A mighty fine moment.
In the last battle scene I did catch myself yawning while thinking how many of these shoot 'em ups does one have to sit through. So I would not look to this film to have variety, but if you want to watch men play tough guys with style and ease The Expendables 3 is for you. If on the other hand, you want a sensitive well-crafted plot with equal time for women, stay home with your TV and watch Masters of Sex.
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