Conceptually, The Expendables sounds like a great idea. Teaming up the greatest action icons of the 1980s taps into the beloved nostalgia factor studios love to milk dry. However, after two films, both of which were met with less than favorable reviews, that concept seems to only work on paper.
Enter the recent trailer for The Expendables 3. It features an “all-star” cast of senior citizens pretending to fire guns bigger than they are. Opening August 15, The Expendables 3, directed by Patrick Hughs (Red Hill), showcases some of the returning cast members to the series. Franchise veterans include Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Jet Li. Recent additions to the cast feature Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz and Victor Ortiz.
As the trailer points out, Barney (Stallone) and his team of steroid abusers are being hunted by arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson). Years ago, Barney and Stonebanks formed the Expendables, but bad blood between the two mercenaries forced them into an awkward situation involving the use of assorted dangerous armaments on one another. Believing Stonebanks to be dead, Barney is shocked to see that he is actually very much alive. In order to protect his team, Barney recruits additional members that no one really cares about to take out Stonebanks for good.
Even with a cast of many recognizable names, this trailer doesn’t provide much hope for those wanting to see an action film with even a semblance of intelligence and competent acting. I know it seems like I’m asking for too much and perhaps I am, given who is involved with this film. As Stallone, Schwarzenegger and many other action stars have proven over the decades, acting isn’t exactly their forte. Still, this particular film features a few MMA fighters. I’m sure they’ll just light up the screen with their acting abilities.
One of the trailer’s few bright spots, and I say this with much trepidation, is Mel Gibson. Outside of his occasional racist and sexist rants, Gibson has always proven himself to be a pretty good actor. For The Expendables 3, he’s playing the villain. If there’s one thing that Gibson can pull off in spades, it’s being completely out of his mind. While the trailer doesn’t feature him doing anything particularly crazy, I’m willing to bet he’ll have a few moments of Martin Riggs-like insanity.
The action itself doesn’t look bad necessarily. Does it look unrealistic? Sure, but it’s not terrible looking. You have some quick shots of a couple of fight scenes, and an odd amount of attention paid to a motocross bike. These clips might have been able to generate excitement at one time, but in a world where films like The Raid: Redemption, Skyfall and Taken exist, the action in films like The Expendables just comes off being goofy and trite.
Look, I love movies like Conan the Barbarian, Predator and First Blood as much as anyone, but the reason why I like them is because they have a little intelligence to them. There was some actual effort put into those movies, and that’s why they continue to be so popular today. This trailer, much like the previous two Expendables movies, is trying to re-create the success of those classic films, but with little of the effort or creativity involved in their creation.
The marketing for the film points out that this will be the last hurrah for this team of arthritis-afflicted action stars, but with so few of their other cinematic endeavors pulling in the money, I doubt they’ll abandon this franchise after three movies. Who knows? Maybe OneOfUs.net’s resident senior-in-chief, Martin Thomas, can exchange fisticuffs with the Austrian Oak and Italian Stallion in Expendables 4. It would certainly be a more realistic fight scene than anything featured in this trailer.
What are your thoughts about the trailer for The Expendables 3? How could the franchise revitalize itself while retaining its core concept? Share your suggestions in the comments!