Foreward: I know this is being posted after The Expendables has effectively left theaters. Truth is, I wrote it when it first came out but wanted to focus on the timelier Ice Bucket phenomenon. Then I just kinda forgot about it til now. You’ll live.
If there is one thing that The Expendables movies have consistently tried to teach us, it’s that there aint a problem in the world that can’t be solved with enough bullets. The film opens up by setting a new trend with Expendables movies: a completely useless location subtitle. The screen fades into a scene of a giant train that is obviously armored with guards standing all around it. The location subtitle handily announces “Armored Prison Transport” across the screen. You don’t say? It immediately cuts to one of the only useful location subtitles in the entire movie, a screen of a fortified complex with the caption “Denzali Prison.” Denzali is actually somewhere in Turkey that only Google has heard of, but at least we know where we are now.
The Expendables buzz about the handily identified “Armored Prison Transport” in a helicopter after pulling a ghost ship and using a taught wire to cut, I donno, thirty people on the top of the train in half. They raid and board the train in typical Expendables fashion to free a black Hannibal Lecter who is later revealed to be Wesley Snipes. Then the “Armored Prison Transport” crashes into the “Denzali Prison.” Shit blows up and everyone audibly cheers, as men are duty-bound to do when shit blows up.
After boarding a plane, we are treated to a brief interlude in the action that reveals Wesley Snipes as a founding member of The Expendables named Dr. Death. Despite this scene containing no explosions or tits, it is arguably one of the manliest scenes in the whole movie. Snipes shaves himself with a giant knife and proceeds to talk shit to pretty much everyone, making a self-aware joke that he got locked up for “tax evasion.” Then everyone has a hard time being modest, like men should, and proceed to talk more shit to each other.
The plane lands in a new location, thank God we have the location subtitle to tell us where it is! As before, this reminder text is all but useless, reminding us that we are now in “Mogadishu, Somalia.” It’s a useless subtitle because this place is obviously a shithole, so you can assume on your own that its located in Somalia, where the slogan for the Somali Army is “lean and mean.” We learn that the crew is in Mogadishu to reenact Black Hawk Down. Or to stop an arms dealer from selling Hellfire Missiles, I forget. Terry Crews is reintroduced, and for a few minutes there are way too many black guys in one boat – this part is important for later. Randy Couture pulls a minigun literally out of nowhere and everyone makes premature ejaculation jokes, and no, I’m not making this part up.
One thing this movie is very good at doing is having an underlying message throughout many of its scenes. The Mogadishu shootout is the first scene to put this into practice. We see Wesley Snipes crawling up buildings and swinging around cranes as if he were some kind of monkey. See? Underlying message.
Nonetheless, this action sequence is really well done. The stunts are awesome and despite everything that happens, are never cluttered or confusing. The Expendables rip through the Somali compound snapping necks and cashing checks. All’s going just fine until Mel Gibson shows up in a chopper. The team tries to make a getaway by driving through a warehouse with giant fiery holes in the ground, which I guess is a thing in Somalia. Gibson catches up to them and drops a Hellfire banhammer on the Expendables and shoots Terry Crews in the ass, presumably for being one of the “pack of niggers” that wanted to rape his wife. Gibson basically lines up the whole team and bitch slaps them all at the same time, Three Stooges style.
Later, we cut to yet another location. But wait, what’s missing here? There is no location subtitle this time, because captioning a picture of a clean hospital with modern cars and manicured landscape with “American Hospital” is too obvious even for a group of directors who felt it necessary to tell people what a train was twenty minutes before. We are led to draw only one conclusion, in the Expendables universe, there are only two places: America and shitholes. The shitholes all look the same, which is why they need to point out what specific shithole this particular spot is. The non-shitholes are obviously America, because America is the only non-shithole location in the world. Everybody knows that. But I guess not everybody knows what a train is, or that the Empire State Building means you are in New York.
After visiting Terry Crews in the hospital, Stallone reveals that he is so embarrassed that his team got their shit rocked that he fires the entire crew out of spite. Cue moment of self-awareness. Murtough would be proud. After that, there’s like half an hour of nonsense. We find out that the bad guy has a douche habit like all bad guys in films for the past 20 years do. Mel Gibson really likes fine art, whatever the fuck that means. Kelsey Grammer spends his free time watching street fights and lying about having cancer. More unnecessary location subtitles. We also learn that Bruce Willis has assumed the identity of Harrison Ford.
Basically, after firing his team, Stallone needs to hire new blood for his suicide revenge mission against Mel Gibson. He hires the standard spread of specialists, the drone pilot and hacker, the cliché “maneater” hot chick, the brash reckless jarhead, and the special weapons expert who moonlights as Victor Ortiz. One thing I found ironic about this batch of location subtitles is that it identifies Apache Junction, Arizona, which for those of you who don’t live in Arizona, is the laughingstock of the entire state. Imagine the biggest crackhead ghetto in your state, and then place it in the middle of the desert where it’s always over 100 degrees. That’s Apache Junction and it seems to mesh with my idea of “location subtitles for shitholes” theory. In Apache Junction, we meet Antonio Banderas, who takes a cue from Wesley Snipes by monkey crawling everywhere. He also has an extremely annoying habit of being as flamboyant as possible and never shutting the fuck up.
Once the new team is assembled, the old folks show up to talk shit. Then the young guys talk shit back. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is randomly there, talks shit too. Why? Because shit talking is manly. I could get philosophical about the exchange, but philosophy is gay. The new team with their damned kids and newfangled technology stuff that old people love so much use their damned kids and newfangled technology skills to capture Gibson in Belfast while in the middle of an arms and fine art (whatever the fuck that means) deal. But once the kids capture Gibson, he’s all like “NO U” and captures the kids instead. Stallone makes a clever escape by allowing himself to be thrown off a bridge.
The next part of the movie actually taught me something that I didn’t know. Apparently some people have this thing called a “conscience” that tells them the right and wrong thing to do. Stallone’s character has this “conscience” thing that basically told him it wasn’t okay to just move on with his life and let Gibson kill the kids he hired. So after a bromantic reunion with his “old” team of Expendables, the group flies off to shit talk each other on foreign lands. Harrison Ford calls in to make fun of Jason Statham’s English accent and to tell the team that Gibson is hiding out in Osmanistan, which I was convinced wasn’t a real place until I looked it up. Despite Bandeas being an annoying pain in the ass, the movie actually gives him his moment, where its revealed that his entire team died in the Benghazi terrorist attack, a political jab that I for one enjoyed, because it makes Obama look bad.
Anyway, so the team rolls into this abandoned hotel in this abandoned shithole country. Obvious trap, of course, is obvious. The building is wired to explode, and only those damned kids with their newfangled technology can stop it from going off. After a grossly misrepresented hacking scene, the team is able to delay the detonation of the C4. A massive firefight erupts between the united team and the Osmani army. Not a bunch of mercs or black ops goons, but an actual army from an actual country. The team has 25 minutes to destroy said Osmani army, an objective that is actually realistic. The new kids use their new kid guns and the old guys use their old guy guns and shit blows up.
The director actually did a half-decent job of balancing the action sequences, almost everyone gets their “cool moment” except for, predictably, the girl. She didn’t seem to grasp the idea that you aren’t supposed to just punch people in a fire fight. Girly girl only shoots three people in a 15 minute action scene, then gets her ass kicked and gets saved by someone else, only to roll her eyes and remark simply “Men.” I guess a “thank you” wasn’t in order. Way to be a successful feminist, bitch.
Hell, Harrison Ford does his entire part sitting down too. He may have had some good one-liners, but he grumbled way too much for me to be sure. Arnold Schwarzenegger has his self-aware moment when he cries “Get to tha choppahhgah” and Dolph Lundgren grins his ass off while driving over stuff in a tank as Stallone and Gibson square up for the last battle. The climax, however, is admittedly underwhelming. It’s an old people fight in a drained pool. Nothing fancy, just a vanilla ass whooping. Then more shit blows up, everyone cheers and they all go to the bar to get wasted. Cue credits.
All things considered, I will say this is definitely the weakest of the trilogy. The cast is a bit overcrowded, and the studios stupid insistence on a PG-13 rating really keeps it from being as violent as the last two movies. Also, I’ll say it again, Antonio Banderas is annoying as fuck. But even taking these negatives into consideration, Expendables 3 still manages to be a very good action movie and is worth the watch, if you can put up with the over-the-hill self loathing that permeates most of the dialog. Now get off my lawn, damnit.