The original Expendables was a film aiming for box office success based on its casting. The story was poor and predictable, and the attempts to create camaraderie were sorry. Most of the action sequences were routine at best.
Part Two did better. There was some humor, and the action sequences seemed better directed. But both films were in the “very average” category.
Part Three finally gets it right. The storyline has surprising twists. The humor is better than ever and the protagonists’ repartee is very funny. Their action scenes are smart and competent. The old guys are back; including Jet Li, but with with limited screen time. Kelsey Grammer and Harrison Ford join the old boy network, but they don’t perform any kung fu fighting scenes – although HF was reported injured during filming. Perhaps one of the wheels of his walker came loose.
KG replaces Bruce Willis because Willis’ financial demands were out of the question. Wesley Snipes joins the group after he escapes from prison in the opening scene.
A new young group joins the mix, including the new gal on the team, played by Ronda Rousey, a Judo bronze medalist at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Her physical capabilities and fight scenes are terrific. However, her acting needs some work – even to reach the level of Trigger’s.
The film opens with two big action sequences, followed by a long middle section where the new, young guys are recruited. During this time we find out – this is in the previews – that the bad guy is Mel Gibson. We thought he died in the first film, but it seems he lived and is more evil than ever. He’s a wanted man who absolutely doesn’t want to be captured.
The film was made in Romania and Bulgaria, not all over the world as the captioned locations read. The final, biggest of all the big battles, is truly impressive in its scope, destruction and fight sequences. Throughout, the film maintains a great sense of humor, and most of that can be attributed to one person: Antonio Banderas.
Banderas is the unquestionable highlight of the film. He combines the best of his Zorro and Puss in Boots characters into an incredible fighting machine. He’s also a chatterbox, and funnier than Abbott and Costello put together. When he enters the scene, he dominates the film and brings a needed, but missing, human element to the series’ macho character. Although the actors and actresses of the Academy of Arts and Sciences ignore my suggestions, AB deserves to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. If they don’t, let’s hope the Sylvester Stallone-led Expendables show up at their next pre-Oscar dinner party. What fun!
Rated 3.5 out of 4.0 reasons that if you believe this is the last film in the series, you need to spend more time studying box office results.