Fans of the Expendable series just want continuous adrenaline-pumping action from these senior old-school stars! There should be minimal downtime as much as possible. However, in this installment, with a running time of almost two hours, there were a lot of garbled talking scenes, hokey drama scenes and messing around with the tried formula. I felt this episode was not at par with the first two.
From the first two films, we still get Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture). Caesar (Terry Crews) is in there too, but was out of commission after the first act. Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) still pops in and out of the scene with his cigar. Yin Yang (Jet Li) is sadly relegated to a "short joke" cameo.
For the new characters, we see Doc (Wesley Snipes) in the first part of the film being rescued and he seemed to have a promising role, but too bad that he did not have much to do later in the film. Harrison Ford plays Drummer, covering for the role Bruce Willis used to have. While it was good to see Ford pilot a helicopter (bringing back memories of his Han Solo character), I had never seen him act so hammy ever! Antonio Banderas plays the motor-mouth new recruit Galgo who is supposed to be the comic relief, but turns out to be more annoying than funny.
In the second act of this film, Barney goes out to find new young recruits to replace the oldies in his group. Unfortunately, these young 'uns (Kellan Lutz, Randy Ortiz, Glen Powell and Ronda Rousey) do not have the screen charisma of the older guys, making their detour a most useless waste of time. This includes the cameo of Kelsey Grammer as the guy Bonaparte who recommends them to Barney.
So far, most of the new things introduced in this third "Expendables" film fail to fly. However, the choice of villain was a smashing success. Mel Gibson makes a major comeback here as Stonebanks, Barney's old pal and co-founder of the Expendables, who turns to the dark side as an arms dealer. He really chews up all his scenes gleefully, corny lines and all. It is just too bad that his climactic fight scene with Stallone is predictably short on account of a time bomb that was about to explode. Of course, you know who had to get out of there pronto.
Overall, the original Expendable team and their chemistry together still works. Too bad that they seem to have a hard time getting a better story to work with. They try to inject new blood, but these new elements not really work too well. It is either this idea is getting old and they need to reboot the franchise completely, or they just stick to what made the first two films the fun explosive action romps that they were and not mess with the formula too much. All the stars this film is going to get is for the nostalgia factor only. 4/10
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."