Ah, the Expendables, also known as geriatrics getting their 1980s action flick on. These men are old as dirt, roiled up, and ready for death-defying, stunt-doubled action.
In the return of The Expendables (3), our heroes Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Caesar (Terry Crews), Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Galgo (Antonio Banderas), and Doc (Wesley Snipes), are fighting to take down a bad man named Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) and rescue the newbies of the crew. Newcomers include Thorn (Glen Powell), Mars (Victor Ortiz), Luna (Ronda Rousey), and Smilee (Kellan Lutz). Along Barney and company’s journey, they get a little help from old friends, literally: Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Drummer (Harrison Ford), Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) and Yin Yang (Jet Li).
Conrad, a co-founder of the Expendables, was thought to be dead and has re-surfaced as a sought-after black-market arms dealer. He’s also got a spur in his saddle for Barney and all those that stand with him. So, he does what all other villains do; he very un-cleverly tries to kill everyone. This is an interesting turn for Gibson, since he’s used to playing the good guy. But, Gibson holds his own pretty well.
Screenwriters Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger, and Katrin Benedikt (with character help from Dave Callaham) have created a story that’s actually better than its predecessors – not bad for a threequel. Plus, they didn’t write the first two. Rothenberger and his wife Benedikt’s previous writing credit is Olympus Has Fallen. This latest Expendables story has a lot of heart and doesn’t take itself seriously, so there’s a tremendous comedic element to it. It also successfully merges the old (ways) with the new (ways), begging the question, which one is better? Apparently, new isn’t always best route to take.
In the directing category, Patrick Hughes finds the strengths of each character and tries to bring that to the forefront, although the newcomers aren’t as fleshed out as the seasoned cast members. Kudos to Hughes for bringing out the funny side of Banderas and creating a memorable character in this, his first major production.
Looking at the body of work of the new people in front and behind the camera, it’s obvious Stallone was looking for new blood on and off camera, which is a good thing. Hughes, Benedikt, and Rothenberger bring a fresh perspective to a franchise that seemed to be teetering on the edge of retirement. Likewise, Rousey and Ortiz make this franchise more interesting with its Rainbow Coalition casting, which seems to be a nod to another franchise film where multicultural people drive cars really fast and furious.
Leave it to Sylvester Stallone to show that even though these guys are old, they still know how to have fun and kick butt. And, they can teach the young a few tricks. It’s also good to see a female have just as much fun as the guys.