Before entering the theatre, one is anticipating intensity, suspense and thrills…loads of action. We get the latter. In the opening sequence alone (one we've seen plenty of times before) Sylvester Stallone (as Barney Ross) navigates a chopper full of bulky, overly armed men (Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, Dolph Lundgren as Gunner, Randy Couture as Toll Road, and Terry Crews as Caesar) who casually hang off as if they're wetting the line off the dock. As they and the train that they're on (yes, with the chopper) near the inevitable collision, their recently rescued prisoner/comrade (Wesley Snipes as Dr. Death) is on the edge of a bloody and painful death. He is hell bent on evening a personal score before escaping this eminent crash. One expects some degree of angst, perhaps a cringe when the "bad guys" are annihilated, but the moments come and go with nary a wince or a blink.
Between the action, we are graced with a thespian's performance. Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte is a sparkle amongst some dull acting. The essence of his character so effortlessly delivered. (Recalling many an acting coach's words, "a good actor does not let his performance be brought down by a bad one.") Unfortunately, his performance is redundantly drawn out. For too long, Grammer and Stallone recapture the Doris Day-Rock Hudson car ride feel of the early sixties on a quest to assemble a new team of Expendables. We want to meet them, but a little variety would be nice in lieu of a nod to Groundhog's Day.
Enter Antonio Banderas as Galgo! His performance is scrumptious. Banderas has the ability to embrace and use his confident sex appeal while sprinkling it with enough aloofness to allow his formidable acting chops to shine through. His portrayal of Galgo is spectacularly delivered. It would have been nice to have seen more of the competent and thoughtful Galgo that we merely glimpse in a wilderness scene. Banderas also manages to infuse his character with a touch of today's everyman…a little desperate, a little lonely and very much in need of a job. Thank you for that, Mr. Banderas. An actor's job, after all, is to bring the author's imagination to life. Sadly, this character seemed to have been written more as a bumbling idiot which could only be overcome so much.
In such an action packed film, Jet Li (as Yin Yang) is wasted as we don't see any of his always amazingly executed moves. He serves as the butt of a joke…a few times…the same joke…not even funny the first time. Mel Gibson (as Stonebanks) is a phenomenal villain. Gibson invokes that classic sardonic psychopath that entertains us all. Harrison Ford (as Drummer) phones in his President Indiana Solo performance. We recognize him. He might even be delivering some of the same lines. It doesn't matter. He doesn't really make us care because he doesn't seem to. (Can I hit the Kraft table, now?)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (as Trench) returns to the action genre a lot more laid back. While several new action stars round out The Expendables 3…Glen Powell (as Thorn), Victor Ortiz (as Mars), Ronda Rousey (as Luna), and Kellan Lutz (as Smilee).
The dialogue (as the action) is outdated and, frankly not funny. Every possible bad cliche is included and poorly executed. You'll want to laugh at the classic humor of old that still captures your heart, but…it's just not all that. Skipping the looping and continuity issues… Why all the damaging stereotypes? Banderas fueling our perception of "un gallego." Snipes setting us back with the vengefully violent buffoon of old. All those mindless "Midas" men that smash and/or shoot anyone or anything that they possibly can.
Albeit banal, the action throughout the movie is…plentiful. It is very much an ammo unload overload. (I don't think an arsenal would hold the amount of ammunition that these dudes happen to carry on them at any given time. I suppose you just never know when you're going to run into an entire, actual army…which they do.) Several many punches, choke holds, elbows, limb snaps and kicks further fill out their tactics. Rounding out their warfare are many speedy, but precise stabs and throat slices; the gruesome explicitness of which we are, thankfully, spared. Although, when taking into account the quality of production, it would more likely have appeared as a juvenile gag. Kind of like this film. Most pre(to post) pubescent boys from the mid-eighties will undoubtedly enjoy this film. (I felt like it had been shot by a few that I had known back then…)