HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Expendables 3
HTS Overall Score:84
“The Expendables” series has been a very lucrative series for Stallone and has certainly given me hours of entertainment, watching the old legends have fun on screen in a modern day environment. It’s never been highbrow entertainment, and never pretended it was either. The first movie was supposed to be a throwback to the golden 80’s of action movies, while it mostly succeeded, it had a few hiccups along the way. I really ended up enjoying it, despite its flaws and you can read Dale Rasco’s take on the movie HERE. The second movie took what was good about the first one, and just added layer after layer of awesomeness to the mix and was one of my favorite movies of 2012. It was as if Stallone learned from the mistakes of the first one fine-tuned the series. As with the first, my write-up on the “Expendables 2” is HERE.
The hype for the third movie was high among the action junkies online. The 2nd movie had given us a lot to talk about and now we could only wriggle in anticipation for what Stallone had in store for us this time. Then we started hearing some troubling news. The movie was no longer going to be rated R, but rated PG-13 to garner a wider audience. That was a little disturbing to fans, but then again, the series has never been a wildly R rated movie in terms of action, it’s hovered right around that line between a very hard PG-13 and a light R in regards to what’s shown on screen (minus some CGI blood in the first one). Then to make matters worse, the entire film got leaked online a few weeks BEFORE the theatrical release, causing quite a stir among the community and allowing some information to get leaked to the forums ahead of time, with some rather negative reviews. Still I stayed the faith and waited it out until the theater where I got to go and see these old legends perform once more. I have to say, that the negativity was not all unfounded, as “The Expendables 3” takes a very distinctive dip in quality and becomes the weakest link in the series, hovering just under the quality of the very first one.
Barney Ross (Stallone) is back again, this time he’s got a few demons from the past to work out. After a botched assignment to take down a crime lord, the crew comes to find out that one of the founding members of the Expendables is back again, and actually turns out to be the crime lord they were sent to take down. This psychopath, one Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) by name, ends to sending Caesar (Terry Crews) to the hospital and almost succeeding in taking out the rest of the crew. Realizing that they are getting up there in age, Barney makes an executive decision and relieves, Christmas (Jason Statham), Doc (Wesley Snipes, in an awesome role as a newly freed founding member), Gunner (Dolph Lundren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) from duty, in an effort to preserve them from ending up with the same fate as Caesar. Rounding up a new, much younger crew (think of a bunch of people around Liam Hemsworth’s age from “The Expendables 2”) and sets out to take out Stonebanks before Stonebanks takes out him.
As you can guess, the young crew doesn’t work out so well and ends up getting captured by Stonebanks. Now the only ones who are crazy enough to bail him out are the same people that Barney just sidelined. Adding in a few extras into the fold, Barney co-operates a rescue mission, even pulling in helps from his love/hate competitor Trench (Arnie), along with CIA operative Drummer (Harrison Ford) in a last ditch effort to save his friends and take down one of the world’s craziest arms dealers.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33129[/img]I love “The Expendables” series. The first one had its flaws, but there was no disguising the obvious love for the old golden days when action stars could lift up cars with a single arm and shoot more bullets in one gun than most third world countries carried in an entire arsenal. The sequel was even better that the first, polishing up and fine tuning what was great about the first. I mean, you have all these stars having fun on screen, Bruce Willis, Arnie, Stallone, and we even have Van Damme and Chuck Norris in it as well. What’s not to like! “The Expendables 3” suffers from too much bloat and an obvious attempt to rake in more money by softening the film to appeal to a younger audience. The PG-13 thing is small fry, the real problem here has to do with not being able to let cast member’s go. The main stars have expanded to accommodate the new people and that leaves less and less time for them onscreen. The addition of the younger crew was also a REALLY bad mistake in my humble opinion. They could have been an ok tool if they took up less screen time, but besides the first fight, you don’t seen the actual Expendables come out to do some serious damage until the hour and 20 minute mark!
Now, after voicing those complaints, there is quite a lot of good still left in the movie. Kelsey Grammer and Antonio Banderas do a very solid job at fill in characters, and Antonio Banderas really never disappoints when he is having fun like he is here. A down and out mercenary who needs a new home, he’s great at being the motor mouthed sidekick who is about as people pleasing as an adoring puppy, just one who can shoot really well. With Willis refusing to come back except for exorbitant amounts of money, Harrison Ford plays a creaky older CIA head honcho who just wants to take down Stonebanks, and he really works. Ford is great when he puts some effort in his role, and the cynical old spook is the perfect outlet for him to just ham it up. Plus, once the action starts up, the team really comes together and there’s a LOT of good combat scenes. The extended cut ads in a great hand to hand combat scene between Statham and Gibson’s main goon, which ends up being the highlight of the film. The same can be said for Banderas, who is hysterical in his combat scenes, especially when he’s trying to be lover boy with Ronda Rousey’s character while he shoots people off her back.
Now this brings me to the two shining stars in this movie, Gibson and Snipes. Both are old school action stars from back in the day and neither have lost their flair or their charisma. Snipes steals just about every scene he’s in with that old action flair he was so known for. Kind of like Van Damme in the second one, you love to see him ham it up and spout one liners while he’s taking down a horde of bad guys. He may have been out of the public eye for a while, but Snipes still can move, and move FAST in his hand to hand scenes. Gibson though, Gibson is on another level and every time I see him in a movie it saddens me because he’s only gotten better with age. He basically blacklisted himself from modern Hollywood due to his personal issues that he let become public, but the man is an INCREDIBLE actor. Lately he’s been playing villains and his star power is every bit as compelling as when he was on top of the world in the 1990’s. He eats up the role of Stonebanks with gusto, playing the man as a vicious killer who really has more screen time than any other villain in the series has ever had, which allows for some very powerful scenes between himself and Barney Ross. My only complaint with Gibson was that the inevitable fight between himself and Stallone was a little more truncated than I would have liked.
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33137[/img]The first two movies had a rather rough look to them, the first just being shot in low light, and the second had some intentional smearing going on that didn’t lend itself to reference material. Not so much here, where we have some almost reference level picture quality. The film just pops off the screen with a nice cheery picture that lends itself well to blacks, greys and primary blues (especially in the raid on Stonebanks headquarters). Fine detail is abundant, as that nasty smearing from the second one is gone, and the source material looks much cleaner and more pristine. Flesh tones tend to look a bit ruddy and golden in nature, but never are they distracting or abrasive. The gritty nature of the series is still preserved quite well, just with finer detail and a cleaner look to it. Black levels are deep and inky, although there is a mild amount of black crush to be scene here and there. A definite step up in quality from the first two films and is going please even the most nit picking of fans.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33145[/img]This is one of the few titles released that has a Dolby Atmos track, which we all know is a new format that builds upon the Dolby TrueHD format and adds in discrete channels that allow for a more immersive listening environment if you have the necessary speakers and receiver to make use of them. While I don’t have Atmos just yet, the core 7.1 TrueHD track is the basis for Atmos (just with some added overhead and surrounding speakers) and is a showstopper. This is one of those aggressive, loud, powerful, and in your face tracks that just screams action movie. The gunfire erupts as if it’s going to take down your entire house with sonic bullets and the LFE is deep, powerful and an intense experience that will put a big silly grin on your face from beginning to end. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, and the dynamic range is absolutely huge, with some nice peaks and troughs at certain points of the movie. Surround activity is phenomenal with the kind of 360 degree immersion that really makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a fire fight. Just well done on all fronts, and another one for Lionsgate to be truly proud over.
• "The Expendables 3" Documentary
• New Blood: Stacked and Jacked
• The Total Action Package
• Gag Reel
“The Expendables 3” is a bit rockier than its predecessors, showing some signs wear and tear here or there, but despite all that, it makes for an entertaining action movie. Once the original crew gets back to together and ready to start kicking tail and taking names the movie really takes off and gets fun again. Plus, who can resist Mel Gibson as a villain? I still maintain that if they had really shortened the inclusion of the young blood, we would have had a tighter overall film that would have worked better in conjunction with the other movies, bit the entertainment is still there if you liked the first 2. The video is spectacular and the audio is nothing short of awe inspiring, and with it being one of the few Atmos tracks available, home theater junkies are going to want to check this one out. Recommended to watch.
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Mel Gibson
Directed By: Patrick Hughes
Written By: Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD core) , Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 126 / 131 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 25th 2014
Buy The Expendables 3 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
More about Mike