‘The Expendables 3′ Review

Published 8 months ago by

expendables 3 reviews The Expendables 3 Review

The Expendables 3 offers its share of old-school action thrills and fun, yet it has the same problems as its predecessors – and then some.

The Expendables 3 picks up with Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his loyal roughnecks as they rescue an old crew member (Wesley Snipes), to assist the under-staffed Expendables team on what otherwise seems to be a routine mission. However, when their latest job brings Barney face to face with a presumed-dead acquaintance named Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), the operation quickly goes south.

Barney is thereafter hired by CIA field operative Max Drummer (Harrison Ford) to find Stonebanks and bring him in – alive. The Expendables’ patriarch decides that he needs some “new blood” for the job and recruits his alley Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to help assemble a pack of younger, more tech-savvy, mercenaries. Can Barney and his inexperienced team capture one of the most dangerous war criminals in the world?

The first Expendables movie was a relatively straight-faced throwback to the popular style of machismo action cinema in the 1980s and ’90s, while Expendables 2 often bordered on being an intentional self-parody (albeit, a rather violent one). Expendables 3, as directed by Patrick Hughes (Red Hill), aims to walk the line between these dual approaches, but goes about doing so in a rather clunky manner. The most devoted Expendables fans ought to still get their money’s worth, but even some of them may be left feeling that the series is just running on fumes at this point.

sylvester stallone expendables 3 The Expendables 3 Review

Sylvester Stallone in ‘The Expendables 3′

Stallone co-penned the Expendables 3 script with screenwriting duo Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger (Olympus Has Fallen), but the story and dialogue is very much in the vein of previous Expendables films. The final result oscillates from being very po-faced to very tongue-in-cheek, giving rise to unintended camp dramatic sequences (see: the “Sad Expendables Montage”) and intended comical scenes; it’s an occasionally schizophrenic, if generally amusing mashup.

The big issue, however is that a good chunk of Expendables 3 is devoted to introducing and developing the “young Expendables” team. As such, the main reason for this property’s existence largely gets put on the back-burner. Unfortunately, the film’s fresh-faced stars – Kellan Lutz (The Legend of Hercules), Glen Powell (The Dark Knight Rises), and real-life professional athletes Victor Ortiz and Ronda Rousey – don’t have enough screen charisma (yet) to overcome their thinly-painted characters, so they don’t make up the difference. Eventually, The Expendables 3 offers its share of old-school action thrills and fun, yet it has the same problems as its predecessors – and then some.

expendables 3 movie ronda rousey The Expendables 3 Review

Ronda Rousey in ‘The Expendables 3′

Shoddy filmmaking has always been an issue for the Expendables franchise – and, sadly, it’s only gotten worse on Expendables 3. To his credit, Hughes doesn’t hold back on the gunfire-heavy battles or explosion-friendly action sequences; the only reason this installment is Rated PG-13 is because the violence is, for the most part, bloodless. However, his direction tends to feel amateurish; he and director of photography Peter Menzies Jr. (The Incredible Hulk) often frame the proceedings in awkward closeups – resulting in a movie that not only has little sense of space, but doesn’t exactly make its aging stars look good, either. There are other very basic technical shortcomings as well (poorly-lit scenes, dubious green screen backdrops, and so on).

Hughes, despite this, still manages to stage a handful of satisfying action sequences and keeps the plot flowing at a steady pace, during the buildup to the grand barbecue that is the third act – one centered around a major set piece that, in many ways, feels like a trial run for the director’s upcoming remake of The Raid. Expendables 3 comes closest to delivering on its original promise at this juncture; though, due to (again) weak camerawork and slick CGI not being all that well-integrated with grittier practical elements, the final showdown is only just passable – even given the sheer amount of fireworks on display.

expendables 3 mel gibson The Expendables 3 Review

Mel Gibson in ‘The Expendables 3′

Stallone’s Barney Ross is, as in the previous Expendables films, most compelling when he’s interacting with his fellow seasoned costars, like Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews. However, due to the sheer size of the Expendables 3 ensemble, these supporting players get very little time to horse around with one another. That said, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes make the most of their glorified cameos; Ford does his crusty grump act, while Snipes hams it up as a merc who’s been locked away too long (and yes, there is a meta-joke about his time in prison).

Similarly, it’s fun to watch Mel Gibson chew the scenery as the film’s main villain (he even gets to monologue), while Kelsey Grammer likewise brings just the right amount of self-awareness to his role. Antonio Banderas also shows up, playing a wannabe Expendable who often comes off as the Rob Schneider to Stallone’s Judge Dredd – in ways good and bad. Once again, though, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger who seems to be enjoying himself the most; armed with a wink in his eye, Arnold’s clearly quite content to riff on his legacy, wield some heavy artillery for a bit, and then call it a day.

expendables 3 jason statham wesley snipes The Expendables 3 Review

Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes in ‘The Expendables 3′

When all is said and done, though, Expendables 3 is a mixed bag. It doesn’t really work as a passing of the torch (nor does it satisfy as the promised “one final ride”) and the craftsmanship of filmmaking is still under-whelming. At the same time, there are still enough macho old-timers having a good time and blowing stuff up to make the whole movie perfectly watchable - especially if you can never get enough of this kind of brains-be-damned popcorn entertainment. However, it might be for the best if Sly and company do, in fact, call it quits on the Expendables movie franchise after this third installment.


The Expendables 3 is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 126 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. This guy is directing The Raid remake? I knew it was going to be s**** anyway but now somehow I think it’ll be even worse.

  2. I just finished watching the movie less than two hours ago. I didn’t like it as much as I hoped. It’s ironic to me that during the 2012 comic con panel, Sly said the most important thing is momentum. Well, I think that a lot of it was lost as the movie dragged on. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by Antonio’s character. I think that he was really funny, for the most part, and he elitcited the most laughs from the crowd in my theater. I also liked the opening scenes that featured Snipes. A minor scene that made me laugh was with Jet Li, Arnold and Sly in the bar. Overall, I thought that it was decent and I’d like to see a fourth one made without the younger actors.

  3. I really enjoyed it. It’s not what the Oscars committee looks for, but it’s what I look for in a mindless action flick. The humorous moments were well timed, IMO, and I thought that Mel Gibson stole the show. Here’s hoping he comes back in more films like this because he really shines in those. I really wouldn’t mind an Expendables 4.

  4. we already know Jackie chan & Hulkamania will be some of the new face for part 4 but my wish for the rest are

    Kevin Bacon
    Dave Bautista

    Non Action rolls
    Morgan Freeman
    Michael caine

    new expendables
    Christian Bale
    Chloe Moretz
    Channing Tatum
    Kate Beckinsale

    others I wouldn’t mind seeing in future expendables movies
    David Tennant
    Tommy Lee Jones
    Angelina Jolie
    Scarlet johanssen
    Eddie murphy
    Johnny Depp
    Robert de niro
    Nick nolte
    Dwayne johnson
    David hasslehoff
    Derek Mears
    Ron perlman
    Tom cruise
    Denzel washington
    Brad pitt
    Robert downey jr.
    halle berry
    liam nelson
    danny trejo
    samuel l jackson
    eva green
    hugh jackman
    gerard butler
    bruce campbell
    sarah michelle gellar
    vin diesel
    michael rooker
    jason momoa
    idris elba
    emma stone
    tobey mcgquire
    leonardo decaprio
    the miz
    john cena
    bryan cranston
    brendan fraser
    tyler mane
    al pacino
    shia labiuof
    billy bob thornton
    jim carrey
    jeff goldblum
    jack nicholson
    john travolta
    sam neil
    william shatner
    tom hardy
    karen gillan

    • Anyone else?

    • Keep dreaming. The odds that a 4th installment will even be made are slim to none at this point, but if it does get made I can guarantee you won’t see 99% of the people on your list. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Kate Beckinsale? Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Bryon Cranston, Leonardo Dicaprio, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Angela Jolie, and Johnny Depp? What are you smoking? These actors and actresses wouldn’t be caught dead in an Expendables film. The only actors on your list that would ever even think about doing an Expendables film are John Travolta, Dwayne Johnson and Ron Pearlman. They would be perfect fits for The Expendables and would probably play a role if one were offered to them. The rest of the names on your list, not in a million years. Again, this is the Expendables were talking about!

      • @OrangeCrush:

        Maybe he was being sarcastic with the actor’s list?

  5. Not a very good first weekend.

    Maybe the leak… maybe the Turtles.

    Bay should direct Expendables 4. :)

  6. Most of the reviews giving a thumbs down…Thats why Its Insane But Courageous ! Yeah, definitely yet to watch it on big screen here come 22Aug will view for sure.Must admire the the talented line up and the brain behind that Mr.Stallone, may or can be another 1 or 2 more rides including Jackie Chan with a good director who can make up for all the short comings, yet to deliver peoples wow expectations. That can and should be made and am a lover of Old boys n Old School action and Mr.Stallone please ensure the gaps are filled appropriately with the fab talent you have dared and brought that the public has liked globally.Do give it one or 2 final shots and let the legends of Expendables relax in grace and glory for Doing Best What You Do ! Eager and awaiting to hear on Ex 4 and 5 to round offf….Cheers !

  7. This movie was crap.

    The lone brightspot was Mel Gibson. He was the only three dimensional character in the movie.

    • Saw the movie today, I thought it was very good. I didn’t think that Mel Gibson stole the show. I thought Antonio Bandaras stole the show. I would like to see a 4th with the old farts and the young guns. I guess I’m not as picky as the younger crowd in what I’m looking for in a knock-off 80′s action flick. It made me laugh and that’s all I was looking for.

    • i totally agree about mel gibson’s character, he also mentioned he had a daughter when talking to the young gun expendables. Please let this be some foreshadowing for a female villain, i’m hoping for Milla Jovovich.

  8. I think this review is a bit tough on the old expendables franchise. I just watched the movie earlier today and to be honest it’s the best of the 3 movies. Now originally I had such high hopes for these movies, but ended up being very disappointed with the first 2 because of the ridiculous dumbed down dialogue, and cheesy one liners or “jokes” about some of the actors previous films. In my opinion they never got the tone of the first 2 films right. However I think the 3rd installment finally got the tone right. They keep the corny jokes to a minimum and set a level of seriousness early on that lasts through out the film which I enjoyed and appreciated. Mel Gibson was just right as the villain easily the best big baddy of the series. And it was great to see Wesley Snipes back in action showing a similar skill set as Jason Stathams “Christmas”. Antonio Banderas kind of threw a curve ball with his fun and quirky character which was very unexpected. Over all I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. Honestly it’s funny to me that this movie was the least successful of the three and yet it is easily the best of the three.

  9. this movie was great and exactly what I was hoping for. The only thing that would have made it better is if Arnold was in more scenes. He is funny and smart and just fun to watch. I’m a big action film fan and these remind of the old school films when 10 guys take on the whole Army. Also OLD whatever Arnold, Sly, Gibson and all the guys in thei 40s and 50s look great and 99.9% better than 66 year old gym rat health nut. I cant wait for #4 and #5. They will not stop and I look forward to Sly and Arnold and others to keep them coming. Its refreshing to see these guys in a bar laughing smoking a cigar and shooting and blowing things up. These kind of movies and almost all comedies get a bad review from the IDIOT critics. Dolph L. is good in it too..as in JS, WS and more. I want to see more Arnold every thing he says is funny and he just looks like he is having a good time in the movie. Sick of the comic book action crap bring on the throw back action flicks these guys still will be doing this stuff into their 70s maybe more if they can keep that test level up high enough!!

    • yeah you’re right !

  10. I actually enjoyed this third film more than the other 2. I did miss the gratuitous violence (bodies slitting in two) but I found this version funny and full of action.

  11. The PG-13 rating was not a big deal. No blood spatter, but it’s really not the end of the world.

    Wesley Snipes = YES, more please. Blade 4 too.

    Harrison Ford = YES, see you in Episode 7.

    Like Arnold better in this. A few funny lines. Bandares, meh. A little to quirky and improvisational, but an interesting addition to the mix.

    i thought this one had a little more heart to it, despite the terribly written dialogue. Sly, we love you man. We seriously do. But if you continue to make more of these please let someone else write the script. Also, hire good line delivery coach please. Gotta let those lines breathe, instead of just spitting them out because it’s your turn to talk.

    WHAT IS WITH THE TERRIBLE CGI? Towards the end of the film, I became more tolerant of it, but only because I imagined I was watching the most realistic video game cut scene ever.

    The cinematography was miles better than Expendables 2. That film looked like it was shot on Super 8 video. This one looked way more film-like and professional. Liked the few bits of slow-motion sequences, especially considering how rushed most of the edits are.

    Kellan Lutz surprised me in this movie. Was expecting way worse.

    The finale was a fun action scene, but the Gibson/Stallone boss battle was anti-climactic, just like JCVD in Expendables 2.

    But you know, I can’t stand the score to these films.

    For story, I would rank the three films in this order…

    Expendables 1
    Expendables 3
    Expendables 2

    All of them make for great home theater sound demos.

    Looking forward to the Blu-ray.

  12. I saw this movie, last night.

    I enjoyed it.

    Starts out with good action. Then the melodramatic hospital scene. Then the interesting survey of new recruits.

    Just enough character development to prevent a formulaic script from becoming too shallow.

    Stallone is in the white hat like a mix of old John Wayne and old Alec Guinness.

    Gibson is good in the black hat as a bad guy. Gibson used to be loveable before he directed The Passion. Then atheists hated him. Then Gibson’s divorce with Robyn and child with Oksana made Christians hate him. So really it’s really great to cast Gibson as a bad guy, because it’s easy to hate him even though he has ageless good looks on the big screen.

    I really can’t rant about offensive problems with this movie.

  13. I also think they should have used better classic rock music like the first two. I’m talking about Queen, Rolling Stones, U2, sting, wang Chung, credence Clearwater revival, etc. that would have made the movie a lot more interesting. Neil young’s old man is a boring song.

  14. this movie isn’t worth watching I have seen it and the
    others if both my hands had nothing but thumbs id give it 10 thumbs
    down…..I will not recommend none of my friends or family to watch nor
    spend a single dime watching it…. .Expendable movie no doubt i would
    burn it if it was given to me. i am disappointed in them all. They all
    have done better movies on their own. The biggest disappointment ever.
    If there is a 4th movie i refuse to watch it due to this garbage they
    already put out there.come on guys do something better or lose my

  15. I got an idea. Bring bruce Willis back as well as Mickey Rourke and Jean Claude Van Damme. Make harrison ford the villain as well as Dwayne Johnson, Steven seagal, pierce Brosnan etc. make harrison ford’s character a traitor and set up a mission that ends up a bloodbath in which some of the old and young Expendables get killed. Kill off Kellan Lutz, victor Ortiz, Glen Powell, Randy Couture, and jet Li. Leave wesley snipes and Antonio Banderas as well as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Statham, Lundgren, Ronda Rousey and Terry Crews to find out who set them up. Show more of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s team. Add Robert patrick, John Travolta, Nicolas cage, Michael Biehn, Vinnie jones, Michael Keaton, Don Johnson, Alec Baldwin, Brian Bosworth, hulk Hogan, Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Andy Garcia and Kurt Russell, Ron Perlman, etc. Make it a little like sons of anarchy sopranos, face/off, to live and die in LA, etc.

  16. The superstars in one movie ! it’s a bonus to us movie goers !
    The expendables are great. I watch movie not to scrutinize it but
    to enjoy it. I enjoy it. well maybe we wanted more. but that’s it.
    i love rocky the rambo, the terminator, the one, indiana jones,
    zorro, patriot and the new casts.Wesley,blade and Jason, the transporter,
    are really good on that knife thing ! these martial arts experts are
    good ! i love seeing them in fight scenes since they’re that good.

    More please. Hope my Jacky Chan will be in the Expendables soon.

  17. The Expendables 1 = okay
    The Expendables 2 = better
    The expendables 3 = Huh? I got igh hopes for The Expendables 4 which i think should have been The Expendables 3 but we got what we got I wouldn’t really give it the title 3 I would give it THE EXPENDABLES 2.5 cuz it was lacking in what i liked about the first two which was the censorred action and I didn’t really care for Rousey, Ortiz or Powell or even Lutz nothing against them i just didn’t think they got enough screen time cuz by the end of the movie i wouldn’t have cared if any of them died now if they killed caesar it would have left more of an impact imo but I got hopes for Expendables 4 if it gets done I think sly’s losing his touch on the series he needs to try something different with it

    Like fore example what if the villains all had twin brothers who are twice as deadly and the expendables go on a mission where everything goes wrong and we lose some characters and they find some new guys with some old guys not necessarily action roles but dramatic with some comedic tone to it kind of like a combo of EX 1 and EX2 it would be lots of drama with moments of comedy to keep it from being a sappy type movie I’m working on a fan made expendables on what i’m hoping for in The expendables 4 I would like Chuck norris to come back but he won’t unless it’s PG-13 the Expendables 3 was okay but it had some stuff missing and it came out at the wrong time imo Chuck norris shhold have pardoned the second one he’s done R rated before and EX 3 Was PG-13 it would have been better but alas it wasn’t oh well