SYNOPSIS: The tough-as-nails Expendables are back. A mission to stop a shipment of bombs brings grizzled mercenaries Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Caesar (Terry Crews) face to face with their toughest adversary yet, arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). Determined to bring down Stonebanks, Ross retires the oldtimers and recruits a fresh group of soldiers—Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell—but just may find that his old dogs have some new tricks.
Richard: 3 Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, more people die in the first five minutes of this movie than in any other two war movies combined. There is death by bullet, bazooka and bomb. It’s a wild but oddly bloodless beginning to the movie. Perhaps its because they have scaled back the rating to PG13 from the hard Rs the last two Expendables enjoyed, but removing most of the over-the-top violence leaves an absence of the over-the-top fun of the originals. Why arm Stallone and Company up the wazoo and then skimp on the fake blood and faux carnage?
Mark: I kind of liked the first two but this installment felt…expendable. All the young guns recruited are interchangeable and even the old guys are pretty boring. Schwarzenegger exuded more danger as a governor of a state with18% inflation, Dolph Lundgren looks like a Dutch drag act and only Mel Gibson registers as a crazed billionaire bad guy, a role he ‘s been rehearsing for years.
RC: How could you not love Wesley Snipes saying that his character was put in jail for tax evasion? It’s art imitating life! Or something. I thought that most of the performances weren’t so much performances as they were action star posturing. Kelsey Grammar, as a recruiter for the new batch of Expendables, stands out because he does some actual acting. So do many of the obvious stunt doubles. The rest are bulked-up chunks of machismo floating in a sea of testosterone.
MB: Wesley snipes and his tax joke did make me smile but then he disappears from the story until the end. There are just too many characters to follow: even the poster is in widescreen. The movie felt like an abattoir populated by frisky sides of beef.
RC: Still, as an old-school action movie, it works well enough, despite the lack of gallons of fake plasma. I liked the attempts of creating new catchphrases—which are a must in these kinds of films—like Crews yelling, “It’s time to mow the lawn,” before spraying thousands of bullets into a dock packed with baddies. Also, the action scenes are shot clearly and effectively, and unlike last week’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you can actually see who is shooting-punching-blowing up-kicking-garroting-etc who. It makes it easier to cheer for the good guys when you can tell who the bad guys are.
MB. Even with a high body count there’s this little thing called plot that I demand. I’m still waiting.