The Expendables 3 **

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Where did the joy and sense of fun go all of a sudden in the “Expendables” series? This third entry looked like it was going to be the best from all the previews I saw. I was at least expecting it to be on par with the first two films in the franchise. This third installment is a bit of a mess.

I think at this point it is getting way too to heavy. As much as I love seeing Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammar, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes joining the fun, perhaps they should start replacing the characters to make room. There are so many characters that some of the action literally has them all piled in to a vehicle of some sort, firing weapons at all the bad guys around them. Think of a clown car full of wrestlers and you get the idea.

The story this time tries to go darker and fails. The Expendables crew find themselves going up against a deadly arms dealer who happens to be a former member played by Mel Gibson. Gibson, amazingly, gives the best performance in the film. He really sinks his teeth in and creates a truly menacing character. My problem is that after an opening where the crew busts Wesley Snipes out of jail, Stallone fires them all and hires a bunch of younger members played by actors who could not act their way through a kids movie. This annoyed me a lot as I was especially excited to see Snipes back on the big screen.

Now they do come back when Stallone rehires them for the finale, which is a long ugly battle that takes place in a rundown building that offers the least amount of appealing visuals humanly possible. Speaking of the battles, this installment has gone PG-13 which means that the violence is not bloody at all. At first I was sort of excited by this prospect as the first two movies used CGI blood which I think looks ugly. Turns out no blood at all mixed with shaky cam action to obscure the gore is even worse. Everything just seemed so watered down. I don’t really get this move as the target audience is like 25 and above anyway.

If there is a fourth “Expendables” movie I honestly hope that Stallone can hire a seasoned action director and make it truly R rated again. John McTiernan, John Woo, and Andrew Davis immediately jump to mind. Patrick Hughes, the helmer here, seems to be in way over his head. None of the action is exciting or thrilling and the decision to use cheap looking CGI explosions is a complete disaster. Also cut out some of the characters if you are going to bring on new blood.

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