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ExpendablesThe Expendables 3 (2014)

Director: Patrick Hughes

Writers: Sylvester Stallone Creighton Rothenberger, and Katrin Benedikt

Starring:

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross

Harrison Ford as Drummer

Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks

Kelsey Grammer as Boneparte

Robert Davi as Goran Vata

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench

Jet Li as Yin Yang

The Old Team:

Jason Statham as Lee Christmas

Randy Couture as Toll Road

Dolph Lundgren as Gunnar Jensen

Terry Crews as Caesar

The New Team:

Wesley Snipes as Doc

Ronda Rousey as Luna

Glen Powell as Thorn

Victor Ortiz as Mars

Kellan Luta as Smilee

Antonia Banderas as Galgo

Plot Summary:

Stab! Bang! Rat-a-tat-tat! Bandbangbangbangbang! Boom! BOOM! Arrgggh

That’s really about it.

As with The Expendables (2010) and The Expendables 2 (2012), The Expendables 3 is entirely predictable. There is virtually nothing missing from the expected clichés of the contemporary action movie: car chases, millions of expended rounds of ammunition, stylish martial arts sequences, beautiful women, pretty much everything explodes, close calls, narrow escapes, the good guys win in the end, the main bad guy gets what’s coming to him, and post-mission, everyone soaks in the love and camaraderie at their favorite watering hole.  In short, there are no real surprises.

The movie begins with the old team rescuing Wesley Snipes–Doc–in the nick of time, with nearly all of the clichés. Almost immediately after, they embark on another harrowing mission with almost all of the clichés, but one is added: one of the good guys–Terry Crews as Caesar–is cruelly shot by the evil main bad guy, Mel Gibson as Stonebanks. His near death provides the motivation for Barney to go after him.

It seems Stonebanks was one of the co-founders of the Expendables, but went over to the dark side of the mercenary force, and Barney must make things right, but oh no, he’s getting old, and doesn’t want to see his friends die.

So what does he do? He looks up Kelsey Grammer, an old friend and sort of mercenary talent agent, and recruits a brand new team, who he apparently doesn’t mind so much watching die. But of course, the kids eventually grow on him.

Harrison Ford, who replaces Bruce Willis as the CIA contact, sends Barney after Stonebanks. And they capture him, but it’s a trap, and he captures them–except Barney, and Stonebanks taunts Barney using the new team as bait.

Barney ends up with Banderas–Galgo–who plays a sort of comic–but deadly–flake, and at the last minute, his old team, faithful to the last, shows up, and it’s one small happy family again, but this time, Drummer and Trench and Yang–who is now working for Trench–show up to help. And it’s off to the fictional country of Nonamestan–or something like that–to rescue the youngsters, wipe out most of the army and air force of Nonamestan, and of course, kill the bad guy in single combat.

No one in this movie will be receiving an Academy Award nomination, and I doubt any of them expect it. Character development is virtually nonexistent–with so many actors and so many action sequences, there is neither time nor need for it–and dialogue is brief, with the exception of Galgo, who talks more or less non-stop, saying virtually nothing, which is endearing in an odd way.

Anyone looking for accurate combat tactics and rational continuity will be disappointed.   Barney and his new team go into combat having never trained together.  It may make a dramatic visual to silhouette the team on the top of a ridge, but it’s an excellent way to get killed. Barney Ross flies a two-engine propeller-driven cargo plane around the world in time frames that are plainly impossible for that kind of aircraft, to say nothing of having an apparently unlimited fuel supply. The good guys, going into combat against enormous odds, don’t appear to be carrying nearly enough ammunition or to be wearing appropriate load bearing gear. Virtually every convention of stealthy movement in combat is violated, but that’s not the point of the movie–whatever it might be.

Harrison Ford gets to fly a helicopter, and interestingly enough, he actually is a helicopter pilot of some note. This is MMA fighter Ronda Rousey’s first movie role. Not only does she have fetching armpits–you’ll see–she has grace, beauty and screen presence. Her fight sequences are sharp and exciting. She acts surprisingly well, given her meager lines, and looks good. She surely has a future as an action star. Antonio Banderas is also a stand out, in the action sequences, and in his acting. It’s limited in scope, but he makes the most of it.

Stallone is, of course, Stallone, which is reminiscent of my favorite quote by Abraham Lincoln, a book review: “People that like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” There are several close ups of Stallone displaying anger, internal conflict, resolution, etc. and all look pretty much alike. Mel Gibson is a solid bad guy, and looks surprisingly young and fit in the role.

This is definitely not a must-see in a theater movie, but as a pleasant and fast-paced way to spend 103 minutes, it’s fine. For most people–and the opening box office would seem to suggest this is so–The Expendables 3 is probably best bought on DVD. If one likes action/adventure films, it’s certainly worth that price.