The Expendables 3 – Film Review

The muscles and gags are starting to sag in Stallone's threequel

The poster for Sly Stallone’s threequel boasts, “New team. New attitude. New Mission.” But sadly it’s a case of same old schtick. You can see the testosterone leaking and the muscles starting to sag as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Get to the chopper!” line from 90s actioner Predator is repeated ad nauseum. The plot? Well, it goes something like this… Mel Gibson (riffing on his real life fall from grace) is the bad guy and ex-expendable who turns nasty arms trafficker. Cue Sly getting the band back together for one last hurrah.

While the second instalment played for laughs and offered action and gags in equal measure this Patrick Hughes directed effort feels unbalanced. The 2012 sequel was like a 1980s compilation album you play air guitar too when you’re home alone – a guilty pleasure. And it had the mercurial insanity of Jean Claude Van Damme. Part 3 feels like a Calvin Harris remix of Giorgio Moroder. Jarring.

As the new recruits are, well… recruited by Frasier bloke Kelsey Grammer it’s just a pause for the cause before the action oldies save the day. In a moment of meta wisdom one of the young guns jokes that you can’t just kick the door down and start spraying bullets like it’s 1985.

At a press conference to promote the film Stallone, as always, was good value and promised “a festival of violence” while teasing all female action spin-off Expendabelles. But while the Rocky star hyped up his film Jason Statham, sat to his left, looked like he’d rather be somewhere else – just like he does in this film. While Stallone may have a point about cutting the gore to balance the humour, making a 12A certificate is all about bums on seats not creative integrity.

It’s testament to Stallone’s enduring appeal that he’s come back from the brink of career desolation more than once, but how long can he carry on grandstanding? When you’re favourite band get back together it’s nice to hear them roll out the hits but after a while you’d sooner remember them in their pomp. Watching Harrison Ford pick up a paycheck here as a CIA spook feels a million miles away from Han Solo and doesn’t bode well for Star Wars Episode VII The old smile is there but the performance is totally vacant.

Other new recruits to the franchise fair better. Antonio Banderas gets busy scene-stealing as the fast-talking assassin who joins the gang along with Wesley Snipes (back on screen after three years in prison for tax evasion) clearly enjoying hamming it up as ‘Blade’ man Doc who wisecracks, “I’m the knife before Christmas!” But Stallone, as you would expect, saves the best one liner for himself. “I’m the hate!” says the action veteran during a mano a mano face off with Gibson’s Stonebanks. By his own admission the Rambo veteran is full of metal plates from action movie injuries. If he keeps this up he’s gonna need a zimmer frame.

Check out our exclusive interview with Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas below.