It’s time to reload because Barney Ross, Lee Christmas and the rest of the gang are back, and doing what they do best – blowing everything to hell in this brand new entry to the most testosterone-filled franchise of all time.
After breaking out one of their own, Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the Expendables undertake a contract to capture a notorious arms smuggler. The only catch is that the arms smuggler in question turns out to be Barney’s former teammate and co-founder of The Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a man who Barney had to put down after he went rogue. But Stonebanks survived, and has made it his mission to destroy the team he once called his own. The story really kicks off when one of Barney’s friends is caught in the crossfire, forcing him to recruit a younger generation of Expendables to help fill out the ranks for what will be all-out war.
Sylvester Stallone once again returns as writer and star of the lucrative franchise, and this time he’s enlisted the help of Australian director Patrick Hughes. The talented director has made sure to fill the screen with enough hard-hitting action and stoic one liners to knock the audience back into their seats.
While the team’s core troops, including Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) all return, Barney is gathering some old faces and new talent. First off, there’s Wesley Snipes as the slightly unhinged knife master Doctor Death. A former medic, and one of the original Expendables, Death has a few screws loose, but is an adapt soldier who is more than capable in a firefight and can hold his own when it comes to unarmed combat, as well as giving the Expendables resident blade master, Statham’s Lee Christmas, a run for his money. Snipes jumps into this role, and instantly steals the first fifteen minutes of the movie for himself. He brings a crazed personality to Death, as well as some much needed soulful flair.
Joining Snipes is Antonio Banderas as the acrobatically gifted Galgo. A former member of the Spanish Armed Forces and Bosnian War veteran, Galgo is desperate for a chance to prove himself and recapture his masculinity and warrior spirit once more. While Galgo produces a hell of a lot of laughs out of his desperation to experience combat again, he also carries a sense of sorrow (like all the Expendables do) from the harsh realities of war. Banderas has an absolute ball as Galgo, and is equally impressive with both his comedic and dramatic timing. He also brings this wildcard sense of energy, and passion to his fight scenes, holding his own, while also plying his irresistible charm. He’s a great addition to the Expendables roster.
But it’s not just the old dogs who are along for the ride this time, as the Expendables are getting some new blood. Kellan Lutz leads the pack as washed up former Marine John Smilee, who finds a sense of purpose and a role model in Barney, while also showing off some impressive motocross skills as he inflicts some serious damage to the bad guys. However, Barney isn’t just leaving it to the boys this time, introducing Rhonda Rousey’s Luna – a tough chick if we ever saw one. She definitely is the breakout star of this piece, and being a UFC World Champion has some serious ass kicking skills to boot. Rousey also proves that she’s got the acting chops and presence to be a major star. Additionally, The Expendables get a tech infusion thanks to Glen Powell’s thrillseeking, daredevil super hacker Thorn, as well as some badass new toys courtesy of Victor Ortiz’s high tech weapons specialist, Mars.
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as Barney’s resident frenemy Trench Mauser, who once again picks up an assortment of high-powered machine guns to terminate everything in sight. Kelsey Grammer gets in on the action as retired mercenary and ‘talent scout’ Bonaparte, throwing plenty of comedy in Barney’s direction, while legendary actor Harrison Ford show’s up as C.I.A case officer and authority figure Max Drummer, who isn’t content to just give orders, storming out into the field behind the controls of a helicopter gunship.
But the biggest part of the whole movie comes in the form of chief villain Conrad Stonebanks, played by an absolutely pumped and very scary Mel Gibson. While Eric Roberts and Jean Claude Van Damme antagonised Barney and the boys in the first two installments of the series, Mel Gibson is the arch villain that The Expendables deserve. Stonebanks has a serious problem with Barney, and Gibson perfectly channels his hatred for his former teammate. What works is that Stonebanks is portrayed as the somewhat twisted mirror image of what Barney could have become had he strayed from the path, and their mano a mano, no holds barred final confrontation is absolutely brutal.
The Expendables 3 certainly isn’t short of action, and there’s some pretty impressive set pieces. While the new kids on the block get more attention than I had anticipated, the old dogs certainly learn a thing or two from them, and when these two generations of Expendables finally team up together the results are explosive. The Expendables are back, locked, loaded and ready for action. Boom Lay Boom.