ByJames Weeks, writer at
Aspiring writer, director, and composer. Editor of Follow me @moviepilotjames
James Weeks

This review may contain what some would consider spoilers

STORY - 70%
ART / DESIGN - 80%
  • Good old action fun with the legends
  • Good pacing
  • Mel Fucking Gibson
  • Hard to flesh out characters when there are so many
  • Over the top stunts
  • Not much emotional attachment to new Expendables members


As we take a look at the latest, longest and last entry in this action franchise, we present you with our [The Expendables 3](movie:388705) review.

It's no small secret that the movie has been leaked to the masses, so the question that should be in your mind is, 'Should I go see the movie when it is released on August 15?' It seems that if you ask most of the critics, the answer is no, but if you ask me, the answer is affirmative.

You are now sitting there, saying, "James, why would I go see this movie in the theaters when I can just download it?" Well, I'll give you 5 reasons.

1. It's a good God damn movie.

2. You should support this movie to thwart the asshole who tried to sabotage it.

3. Even if you were to find the leaked version, the sound is not up to par as it is only in 2.0 stereo. You'll find no bullets whizzing by your head, or Earth shattering explosions via the subwoofer. Not only that, the video is one step down from DVD. Long story boring, you will be robbing yourself of the full experience. While that might be fine in a lesser movie, I would highly suggest seeing this movie the way it was intended.

4. You won't receive a notice from your ISP, or worse be sued by the MPAA or Lionsgate. The heat on this one will be huge. To my knowledge this is the first leak of a full motion picture before release (I'm not including workprints). Anyone who thinks they aren't tracking these torrents is either ignorant or blind, or the total package.

5. It's a good God damn movie.

And, oh yes, there is a sixth reason. Number six is that it's just plain fucking wrong. Especially for a movie that hasn't even been released yet. Pardon me while I jump up on my soap box here (you can skip this paragraph if you don't want to hear me bitch), but we seem to have a serious problem with Millennials. That problem is the give it to me free and give it to me now attitude. They want their movies and music free, they don't want to have to pay for it, yet they seem to ignore the fact that it costs money to manufacture such things. It's akin to the anti-capitalism movement, wherein they don't want capitalism, but they want their toys that it provides.

Jason Statham & Wesley Snipes in The Expendables 3
Jason Statham & Wesley Snipes in The Expendables 3

As I researched the release of this film, I have seen more and more of this type of attitude. Kids will be presented with films that have been copied via camcorder illegally, and yet they will still complain that the copy was horrible, or the sound was bad, or that the guy was eating popcorn. They don't take into consideration that this person risked going to jail by filming it, and then went a step further in risking jail time by distributing it. They only want their free and their right now and will even bite the hand of those providing it. And yes, it can get worse. They then continue to believe that they are movie critics and have the nerve to complain about a film and the production thereof, when they haven't even paid to see it. This is a real problem. These folks have no clue of the amount of creativity, effort, hard work, and millions of dollars that goes into producing entertainment media.

That being said, only recently has Hollywood come to this realization. It's only been in the last year or so that we've finally begun seeing good movies. All too often Hollywood has made a habit of throwing good money after bad releasing horrible shit storm after horrible shit storm. I'm surprised we haven't seen Dukes of Hazard II (hell maybe we have and I didn't notice) or Father Knows Best - The Movie. They also move at the speed of a slug when it comes to adapting to modern consumer trends.

Those who follow me know that I'm not a fanboy, and I don't cater to bullshit or sponsors. I tell it like it is, and I wouldn't be telling you that this movie was worth going to see if it wasn't. But, I will also be first to tell you that it isn't going to win the movie of the year award. Not even close. I will go further and repeat myself in saying that you should support this movie just because some asshole tried to sabotage it. The reason? Because this is the wrong movie to do that to, and here is why:

With so many stars involved, a lot of folks probably took huge pay cuts to make this film happen. Or worse, they took their cut on the back end. This means that they didn't make a salary, but would instead only make money in the form of a percentage if the film does well. If we allow some schmuck to sabotage that, then we may never see a film of this magnitude and badassery again. And, it's not like your supporting a movie just because someone tried to sink it. If you're an action fan, it's a good movie. If anything, it's a funny movie.

Now on to the review...

  Expendables 3 Review - Kelsey Grammer and Sylvester Stallone
Expendables 3 Review - Kelsey Grammer and Sylvester Stallone

The latest Expendables outing finds CIA contractor Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) back in the pilot’s seat of his decrepit seaplane with his familiar team of mercenaries onboard, including Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture). They’re on a mission to rescue one of their own, knife expert Doc (Wesley Snipes), one of the five original Expendables, who’s been locked up in prison for the past eight years. Once Doc is reunited with Ross following a shootout on a speeding armored train, they head out to Mogadishu in Somalia, where Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) awaits their arrival.

Their black-op mission to apprehend a notorious arms dealer falters when they discover their target is actuality Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), one of the Expendables co-founders, who Ross was convinced he’d killed years earlier when Stonebanks went rogue. Out-gunned, they abort their attack, barely escaping. This allows Stonebanks to slip away. Back home, Ross confronts CIA handler Max Drummer (Harrison Ford), who gives him one final chance to apprehend Stonebanks. Convinced the Mogadishu incident demonstrated that his comrades are past their prime, Ross forces his current team of Expendables into retirement and assembles a new crew.

Expendables 3 delivers. It's just that simple. It delivers because it doesn't promise a twist ending, or that it will break new ground. It doesn't promise to be the best movie you've ever seen, or that anyone in it will win an academy award. Expendables 3 is an action film with legendary action stars. A movie with large explosions, even larger body counts, and testosterone to spare, and that's it.

Where The Expendables 2 glorified itself in gore and carnage to a degree where it's almost impossible to imagine how much needed to be cut to avoid an R rating, part 3 takes it to the extreme with insane stunts and impossible feats.

The action is fast and hard, and even if it doesn't always get your pulse racing, it's paced well and edited expertly. The plot is very by-the-numbers, and even sometimes vague, but it works. It's interesting that the way in which this film was made, if it hadn't been for the first two, it would be a literal cluster fuck. However, because we have the back story already in place, it works, and in an odd way, it works very well.

I've seen some say that The Expendables franchise isn't about character development, but I have to disagree. I think that Stallone and company have done a phenomenal job of giving us a feel for the crew, especially when you consider how many characters they have to cover.

With any film containing this number of quality and A-list actors (and there aren't too many that I can think of), it's difficult to flesh out the characters and divide the screen time. While I think it could have been done better in this installment, I believe they did as good a job as they were able. This was probably the studio needling things down for brevity's sake, but to be honest, I could have watched more.

I would have liked to have seen Wesley Snipes character grow a bit more than he did, but all in all I think they did a great job there. At least I can't say that it was a horrible performance or cardboard character. Luckily, the franchise had already built up several characters over time, so what little screen time they command is used effectively. It also doesn't hurt that the egos and attitudes of these guys are ingrained upon our memories for all eternity. They are bigger than life characters themselves.

  Expendables 3 Review - Harrison Ford
Expendables 3 Review - Harrison Ford

I did feel that Harrison Ford's character felt rushed and not fully utilized. I mean, this is Harrison Ford we're talking about. Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and the God damn President of the United States. More time should have been spent developing Mr. Ford's character and giving him more screen time. I was also very disappointed that we didn't get to see him in that black outfit with the ski cap that was advertised. It gave him a very hip vibe, I thought.

  Expendables 3 Review Screenshot
Expendables 3 Review Screenshot

Even though it's easy to justify less screen time given the amount of new faces we're seeing, some of our favorites were nearly left out. Jet Li and Terry Crews are in limited roles this time around. In fact, it seems almost everyone is in a limited role aside from Stallone, but not nearly as much as these two fellows.

  Expendables 3 Review - Strung Up
Expendables 3 Review - Strung Up

Overall the acting was spot on. I would have rated the film a 90% on acting, however, there were a few awkward moments from the new kids on the block. For that reason direction took a bit of a hit, as I think that the director should have noticed this. Even so, I did feel as if I could take the movie more seriously than the second film.

Just as with other Expendables films, there were some great one liners. I won't give them away, but I will say that the best ones came from Snipes and Schwarzenegger, with Arnold finally delivering the line I had been waiting for.

  Antonio Banderas steals the show in Expendables 3
Antonio Banderas steals the show in Expendables 3

One thing that can't go without saying and that is that Antonio Banderas stole the show. His character was absolutely hilarious, and I dare say that this character and Wesley Snipes will be worth the ticket price alone.

The score was your typical action score. Nothing really to write home about, hence the score. It wasn't bad; it just wasn't great. Sorry, Brian.

Art/Design scored an 85 simply because the sets were believable, and nothing seemed terribly shoddy. I never had to sit there and be distracted by the surroundings or aesthetics of the film, nor did I have to concern myself with how cheap they looked. No one will win any awards in this department, but everything worked well.

For myself, I just didn't get enough of Mel Gibson. I mean this is Mel Fucking Gibson. It's bad enough that Hollywood has shunned him in the way that they have, and we've not been able to see him in movies lately. But, I felt like he just wasn't in the film enough. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not excusing things that old Mel might have said, but I hear a lot of asinine things come out of Hollywood (Sarah Silverman, Alec Baldwin, or Sean Penn anyone?). It's time we get to see him in some films. And if it has to be him as the bad guy, so be it. It's not like he can't pull off crazy.

That being said, I felt the ending was not as well executed as it could have been. I also felt it was a bit too quick. Honestly, more could have been done to round out Mel Gibson's character and make him just a tad bit more evil, but it is what it is.

It must be said that you have to suspend your disbelief heavily with this film. And I do mean heavily. I don't want to give away too much, but a few stunts with vehicles are just plain impossible and would never happen. I'm not sure if the director meant for these to be believable, or if they were also tongue-in-cheek jabs at the '80s.

One last note. I see the film getting panned here and there. I don't get it. I really don't. This is an action movie, and it delivers. On top of that, it brings the humor along with it. A type of humor that isn't easily done in most films. Are these critics really judging the movie for what it is, or are they comparing it to something it never attempted to be? In fact, what are these critics comparing the film to? Schindler's List? This is a God damn big badda boom homage to action films, plain and simple.

Should you go see Expendables 3 over Guardians of the Galaxy? No. But if you've already seen the latter, or it's not your cup of tea and you have nothing to do on a Friday night, there are far worse things you could see rather than Expendables 3.

Now, What do I want to see in Expendables 4? The Rock and Nick Cage as the bad guys, and throw Clint Eastwood, Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal into the mix. I can then die a very happy man.


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