"The Expendables 3" Review

Disclaimer: Mild spoilers below.

The Expendables are back for another round of butt-kicking, gun-shooting shenanigans. This time around, Wesley Snipes has joined the team as Dr. Death. True to the Expendables formula, Snipes pokes fun at himself and the public's perception of him but Snipes also adds a zany energy, great agility, and snappier comedic abilities than the others, with perhaps the exception of Terry Crews. Crews is largely absent from the film, having been given the part of sacrificial lamb, which I find to be in poor taste. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to have a known racist pulling the trigger on a black man in a predominantly white team? I had greatly looked forward to seeing Snipes and Crews play off each other with quick, witty banter but hopefully future films in the franchise will capitalise on this.

While I largely enjoyed this film, there were a few weak points. Mel Gibson is the villain and his performance is as stale and archaic as his misogynistic, racist, anti-semitic antics. Stallone's performance is what you'd expect, no more or less, but I did find the uncomfortably long close-up to his face undermining of the dramatic impact they were going for. Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his third appearance in the franchise and his incessant references to his "classic" one-liners has long since lost its charm.

With the series' lack of ethnic diversity, it's a shame they chose to sideline one of their only POC character characters (Terry Crews' Hale Caesar). Believe it or not, boys, you can have more than one black man in a scene. Additionally, Jet Li's all-too-brief appearance, much like that in the second film, made little sense. (Also, naming his character Yin Yang has got to be one of the laziest namings of a Chinese character I've ever seen). Why bring Jet Li in for such a short amount of time only to have him shooting guns instead of showing off his fighting skills? For the next film, they should bring him back and bring on board Jackie Chan, give them larger roles in the film, and showcase all that they have to offer as both martial artists and actors. Overall, there was an excessive amount of gun-play in the films without enough hand-to-hand fight sequences to balance it out.

Other Expendables newcomers included Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas. Ford delivered his legendary brand of sass, and the friction it created with other characters further enhanced the film's comedic content. Antonio Banderas plays Galgo, a rather eccentric character who has tremendous enthusiasm for going out on missions, fighting, and killing, without ever coming off like a violent goon. (Banderas also refrained from excessively bulking up his build, which is greatly appreciated as the film doesn't need another man with lower-arms that look like over-baked hams). Galgo's energy is downright infectious, as it appears to have transferred to the actors' portrayals of their characters, and even the audience, as I found myself laughing more in this film than the first two combined.

The film is not short on eye candy, either. Whomever was responsible for styling Dolph Lundgren in this film truly deserves an award for moving away from those dreadful attempts to grunge him out. Gunner Jensen may still be an alcoholic but he appears to have settled into a healthier rhythm and gotten in tune with his Swedish metrosexuality, with enticingly chopped hair and stylish outfits for when not in the field. Though I'm uncertain as to the purpose of his chewing gum on every mission, there's nothing to complain over once that Viking bone structure starts flexing. It's about damn time the franchise stopped fighting the fact that Dolph Lundgren is pretty. There's also Kellan Lutz, part of the young-Expendables brought on board. Lutz appears to be being groomed to take over as leader of the team once the older generation ages out. He's a solid choice; in addition to being well fit, he embraces the franchise's physicality and is always up for the challenge of various types of stunts.

The last newcomer worth discussing is UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. If you expect her to be just a token hot girl, you are sorely mistaken. Not to take away from her physical attractiveness, but Rousey's greatest strength is not her looks. As a professional fighter, and a champion at that, her fight sequences are vastly superior to every single other person's in this film. There can be no faking what she does; Rousey is the real deal. As a bonus, she even managed to come away from the film with her own action-film-one-liner. From here on out, if you are ever insulted by a sexist that says you hit, kick, or fight like a girl, just think of Rousey and respond with the following: "Thank you."

The Expendables in now playing in theatres.


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