"delivers engaging action with a coherent paint by numbers plot"
The down grading of the rating from what should've been a 15 to being a 12A upon its release finds The Expendables III amidst some controversy as it prepares to storm its way into UK cinemas. The inevitable source of this motivation is monetary that applies the simple equation that a younger and broader audience is almost guaranteed to equal more astronomical box office takings.
Whilst the maths add up the fear is rife that it will neuter The Expendables III, making it nigh on impossible for it to be the homage to the hyper violent action films of the '80's and early '90's. But is the profanity, blood and the gore necessary to guarantee enjoyment? The inescapable reality of the situation is that this franchise was born out of the desire to pay tribute to the exploits of the yesteryear of action cinema, and in light of this it remains somewhat disheartening to see what this beast has become.
In spite of this concern, The Expendables III pulls off its mission; delivering a deliriously fun experience with an offering of corny one liners amidst high octane action. Whist the scenes cut in order to reach the 12A rating are obvious, the fluidity of the editing ensures that they are only minor observations as the film retains its coherency.
If this is to be the final instalment of the franchise director Patrick Hughes has led his cast of action legends on one final hoorah! But ensuring to up the ante he brings a few of action cinemas friends along for the ride: Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas along with a few newcomers: Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Kellan Lutz to keep The Expandables with one eye on the past, and the other on the present and future.
In an exercise of narrative simplicity, The Expendables old and new are off tracking down Mel Gibson (Conrad Stonebanks), a former Expendable and one who was thought to be long since dead. Death being negotiable in narrative fiction Stonebanks has found a new calling as a menacing and deadly arms dealer. Well if you’re going to be the antagonist in this series you better have a lot of fire power.
The Expendables III shines by allowing its new cast to play to their strengths, it makes no bones about being able to poke fun at itself and its cast through an abundance of witty one liners. The early interaction between The Expendables and Snipes' Doc merge brilliant wit and action, and Kelsey Grammer (Bonaparte) and Harrison Ford (Max Drummer) add a gravitas to proceedings with their gruff and instantly recognisable tones. But of course one should not go forgetting Banderas’ hilarious and talkative Galgo.
The misuse of Jet Li continues to frustrate, this time round clocking up a maximum of five minutes of screen time, whilst Terry Crews spends most of the film laid up. Despite receiving top billing, it comes across as a little ingenuous as the two find themselves reduced to cameos, because in each of the films our money continually lands on Let Li in any match-up with this cast.
Few films are perfect, and failings are an inevitable part of turning up to the rodeo. Despite any shortcomings The Expendables III delivers engaging action with a coherent paint by numbers plot that we have come to expect or enjoy from these 'man on a mission' films. Seeing as we didn’t ask for originality, Expendables III comes through its latest firefight a survivor.