The summer movie season, though it started out rough, has gotten better in the months following May. With the release of films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and especially How to Train Your Dragon 2, it has showcased some spectacular films.
However, if there’s any one film that seemed likely to disappoint, it was The Expendables 3, the latest chapter in Sylvester Stallone’s series of greatest hits action stars under one roof. With so much off putting press being spread of this movie, it’s no surprise that it’s turned out to be a dud.
The first thing that really bothers me, and has been the subject of plenty of press and criticism, is how neutered this film feels because of its PG-13 rating, as opposed to its R rated predecessors. I know we live in a day and age where the MPAA might as well have lost all relevance they’ve had, but it’s a distracting move regardless, due to how they go out of their way to tame this movie down, cutting down on language and violence.
But, if the movie were at least entertaining, such a thing could be forgiven. Unfortunately, unlike the previous Expendables films, that’s hardly the case. The film’s cast feels particularly wasted in this movie, featuring all of the original cast members (minus Bruce Willis’s Church), but they don’t have the same spark as before. They even feature new additions like Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Mel Gibson (all of which are action film gold), yet they don’t mix well. The only entertaining new inclusion is Antonio Banderas as an overly talkative sharpshooter. He’s funny, but he’s not enough to save the film.
And that brings me to my biggest complaint of all. By far the most entertaining quality of the previous films was the relaxed, and occasionally hysterical chemistry between the cast members (almost like they were simply out of character, yammering about anything that popped into their heads), but that same chemistry is much more muted in this film. We’ve had two movies getting to know these characters, and yet it feels like no one in this movie even likes each other, and it certainly doesn't help that Stallone is separated from his usual crew for long stretches of the film. That said, I do have to give the film credit for its action scenes. I’ve always loved how this series prefers to use practical effects and stunt work as opposed to gratuitous CGI, and while the action scenes are fun to watch, I’ve spent a majority of the running time quite bored with the film. Bland, bland, bland....
** / *****