'Expendables 3' a case of inaction in action 

click to enlarge The Expendables 3
  • A big crew – including, from left, Sylvester Stallone, Randy Couture, Antonio Banderas, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundgren – can’t make much of “The Expendables 3.”
The main trouble with "The Expendables 3" is that, unlike with his "Rocky" or "Rambo" franchises, Sylvester Stallone doesn't seem to know what it's for.

Stallone - actor, writer and sometimes director - has assembled a nostalgic collection of familiar faces. Yet he lacks opinions, ideas or commentary and relies solely on the theme of teamwork, which gets stretched thinner and thinner as more cast members come on board.

"The Expendables 3" brings back Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Jet Li from the previous films.

Then it adds Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson as the bad guy, and four "kids": Glen Powell, mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey, boxer Victor Ortiz and Kellan Lutz (the latter from this year's horrendous "The Legend of Hercules").

Shooting, fighting, stunts and explosions make up about two-thirds of the movie, leaving not much time – about the length of a sitcom – for the characters to actually talk to each other and become familiar to viewers.

Roughly, that breaks down to just a couple of minutes each, and, for the most part, those few minutes are not used wisely. However, Snipes makes the most of a couple of scenes, as does Grammer.

After a rescue of Doc (Snipes) from prison, the story begins with a botched job and the shocking discovery that an old adversary, Stonebanks (Gibson), once thought dead, is still alive.

Then, when one of his team members gets shot, Barney Ross (Stallone) decides not to endanger his team any longer. So he recruits a whole new team of youngsters whose lives he can endanger instead - a decidedly odd screenwriting choice - and goes after Stonebanks.

Stallone himself directed the junky-looking first "Expendables" and Simon West ("The Mechanic") took over for the much better 2012 sequel, which somehow clicked, while Stallone remained on as writer.

In this third movie, the directing task has been entrusted to an unknown, Patrick Hughes, who physically can't seem to follow the numerous fights going on at the same time, and what he does focus on quickly turns into mush.

The film's two editors likely were sweating and panicking when presented with this unwieldy footage. It's a good bet that there was more suspense and action in the editing room than what actually ended up on the screen.


The Expendables 3

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson

Written by Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt

Directed by Patrick Hughes

Rated PG-13

Running time 2 hours, 6 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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