The Expendables 3 is out to buy on Blu-ray and DVD, just before Christmas arrives, as also happened in 2010 and 2012 with the first two films, but this time round, we have the film in an extended form. “Hurrah!”, I thought. Since we were so bereft of blood and guts in the cinema version, as shown by the intended 12A certificate, so even my then-five-year-old nephew could see it, whereas the first two films were full of gore, I thought the problem had been remedied here…
I’ll come later to what’s new in the film, but if you’re thinking of buying it because they’ve switched the blood effects back on, then you now know that, sadly, that is not the case.
The Expendables 3 is, obviously, the third in the, hopefully, just a trilogy of films about aging action stars getting cameos in a last throw of the dice, for some of them.
The first one, directed by Sylvester Stallone, had a great opening 10 minutes, a great final 30 minutes, and naff all inbetween. The second was better, and directed by Con Air‘s Simon West, but still wasn’t brilliant, *and* had a whacking great hole in the middle lasting 40 minutes where absolutely nothing happened, until Chuck Norris showed up.
So, what about EX3? Well, the basic – and only – thing you need to know is that Mel Gibson is the bad guy. He’s called Stonebanks, and he set up the Expendables together with Barney Ross (Stallone), but went rogue along the way and was assumed dead by Barney’s hand. Or actions, somehow. At least I think that’s the gist of it.
However, he’s not dead. He’s alive and well, and when he knows that Barney and co. know this, he wants to ensure he stays alive. Everyone else wants him brown bread, including the government and Max Drummer (Harrison Ford) – effectively a replacement for Bruce Willis’ character, Church, so-named in the first film because he, Barney and Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) all met in a church.
After a bout of below-average action in the first half-hour, Ross decides it’s time to retire the old Expendables, citing that they’re going to end up dead sooner rather than later if they carry on, and he hires a younger team, even though he doesn’t practice what he preaches, and sticks around to lead the newbies. For example, at one point Barney gets blown off a bridge by a rocket launcher, into a river, but ultimately, it’s not a problem for him.
What follows is a list of what makes this film so dreadful:
- Any bad guys sent in to kill the Expendables are quickly defeated, usually with a single bullet. Any good guys would need to take a volley of bullets to do any damage.
- There’s the occasional decent death, but the relentlessness of it all, as well as the total lack of originality, means it’s a very long two hours.
- The cinema certficate was a 12A, so as I alighted to earlier, it’s like this time round, someone’s switched off the CGI blood splatter and fight scenes, and injuries with weapons, all look badly filmed and/or edited and don’t make sense due to the nannying editing. What would’ve been some cool deaths in a 15-cert were reduced to the camera cutting away when people die for the cinema and nothing’s been restored here, so it still looks as bad as ever. As such, I was going to give it a one out of ten, but it then loses that point. This is Expendables for children, and reminded me of Xenia Onatopp’s mass slaughter of employees in Goldeneye, which was amazingly blood-splater-free!
- In fact, you have to rewatch some of the fights in order to see exactly how it happened, since the editing is so bad.
- I wondered why Harrison Ford, Arnie and Jet Li bothered to turn up, since all they give is basic cameos.
- Antonio Banderas is tedious as the class clown. Any time he opens his mouth – to speak, so do you – to yawn.
- Wesley Snipes puts in an appearance because he’s got a tax bill to pay, and his character, Doctor Death, even makes a dig at his own personal prison trip.
- Although Jason Statham, Lundgren and Snipes are in it more than I was led to believe, they still don’t get an awful lot to do. It’s a definite case of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
- I was pleased to see Robert Davi in the cast, but his was a very blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance which made little impact.
- Luna (Ronda Rousey – who?) is portrayed as a man-hater, twice deriding the male species behind their backs (sometimes dead) with the sleight, “Men!!” Given that the story was written by Stallone, he clearly just writes women as men, or how he sees women. God knows how he’s still married if that’s how he sees them.
- Ford sometimes mumbles as if he sounds like he’s had a stroke. At one point he and Stallone have a conversation. All I remember is that Ford used the cinema release’s one and only f-word.
- Stallone is becoming mightily lazy in his later years. Grudge Match was an exercise in two hours of solid nothingness, and this one is mostly the same, with any occasional decent moments being stamped out by the fact that this is an action film with a total lack of gore, or any real action – certainly nothing we haven’t seen before.
The Expendables 3 really is a pathetic film which plays out like a series of set pieces, rather than an action film with any sense of coherent and concomitant plot. Every cliche in the book is used. We’ve seen it all before, but so much better. If you’ve never seen an action film before, then it might be of interest, but for everyone else, it’s way too derivative.
The one-liners are lame and predictable, and Stallone gives himself the only decent one-liner in the whole film. Unfortunately, you have to wait until the film is almost over before you hear it.
Stallone has also given away the fact that an all-female spin-off is in the works, with the title: The Expendabelles… I kid you not.
Also, I realised that the main theme is very similar to that used in the final level of Rambo: The Video Game, below. That shows how exciting this dirge was. In fact, this film is the first one I’ve ever had to calculate the score involving maths.
As for this being the extended version, it’s only five minutes longer than the cinema version and while the press release would make it sound like all your action prayers have been answered, the extra bits are just little bits here and there, with a few more f-words (and mother-f-words), plus some bits of extra violence including Jason Statham stabbing a man in the back. Such a missed opportunity. There’s more of a breakdown on the IMDB, here, although it’s in a forum thread and is in broken English.
Rambo: The Video Game – Level 16 The Final Showdown (1080p HD)
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture is sharp and detailed with no problems whatsoever, allowing you to see every last, gross sinewy twist in Stallone’s forehead, arms and everything else (shudder). Hey, I managed to find something positive about the disc! For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
As for the sound, obviously 11.1 DTS Neo:X is no longer the ‘in thing’ for Stallone and co. as this time they use Dolby Atmos, or DTS 5.1 for those, like me, without the full technical dohickey.
However, while it’s all okay, it just feels as limp as the plot, so is not a reference disc, that’s for sure.
The extras are as follows:
- The Expendables 3 Documentary (51:56): I didn’t expect the documentary to be presented by Alan Yentob… and to my non-surprise he isn’t here at all.
What we have – and oddly, not even split up with any chapters – is chat from the cast and crew along with on-set footage as they look at a number of aspects to the film, starting with director Patrick Hughes, then onto the action scenes, the stunts, location shooting, working with Stallone, the characters, the well-known cast members aka ‘icons’, filming schedule and a press conference for the film with a bit of Q&A.
- New Blood: Stacked and Jacked (16:11): No, they haven’t added the blood back in here, this is a look at the newer members of the cast including Gibson, Snipes, plus Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz.
- The Total Action Package (6:40): The younger members of the cast blow smoke up the big stars’ bottoms.
- Gag reel (5:41): Does what it says on the tin.
- Extended scene: Christmas runs the Gauntlet (2:46): Including the aforementioned back-stabbing scene.
The menu mixes pictures of the cast with clips in the background with a short piece of the theme, all preceeded by Stallone lighting a cigar.
There are subtitles in English only and the chaptering isn’t enough with a mere 16 over the 131-minute running time.
The Expendables 3 is out now on Blu-ray and DVD (which only contains the cinema version), and the soundtrack album is out now. Also, you can click on the packshot on the first page for the full-sized image.
Running time: 131 minutes
Cat no: LGB95147
Released: December 8th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1 only)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Format: 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Patrick Hughes
Producers: Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner, Kevin King Templeton, John Thompson and Les Weldon
Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (based on a story by Sylvester Stallone)
Music: Brian Tyler
Barney Ross: Sylvester Stallone
Lee Christmas: Jason Statham
Trench: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Gunner Jensen: Dolph Lundgren
Doctor Death: Wesley Snipes
Conrad Stonebanks: Mel Gibson
Toll Road: Randy Couture
Max Drummer: Harrison Ford
Bonaparte: Kelsey Grammer
Galgo: Antonio Banderas
Mars: Victor Ortiz
Luna: Ronda Rousey
Smilee: Kellan Lutz
Yin Yang: Jet Li
Krug: Ivan Kostadinov
Goran Vogner: Robert Davi
Camilla: Sarai Givaty
Hale Caesar: Terry Crews
Thorn: Glen Powell
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.