Making the Grades
What happens when actors pass that “best before date” in an industry that thrives on the young and beautiful? Well, if they can help it they don’t let themselves become expendable. Instead they start their own franchise and give themselves starring roles in a story about an elite group of hired soldiers who do the dirty work for the CIA.
After releasing two R-rated films, the moviemakers behind The Expendables series have decided to dial back the content and release The Expendables 3 to a wider PG-13 audience. Yet if they did adjust the action, it couldn’t have been by much. The only thing that isn’t bullet-riddled by the end of this story is Harrison Ford’s army fatigues. Luckily most of it is bloodless violence, however we still see hundreds of nameless soldiers shot down, some at close range and others unarmed.
Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the story and screenplay, reprises his role as Barney Ross, the group’s leader. While on a routine mission in Somalia to retrieve a rocket from enemy hands, Ross and his cohorts Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Doc (Wesley Snipes) Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Caesar (Terry Crews) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) stumble upon an old enemy, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson).
Ross thought he had killed Stonebanks… but apparently not. After Caesar is critically injured in a battle with the former foe, Ross readies himself for revenge. Still, he’s worried about losing his aging pals. Sitting in a bar, he unceremoniously retires them from the group and then, with the assistance of a past colleague (Kelsey Grammer), rounds up a bunch of young guns (Glen Powell, Victor Oriz, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz) to help him hunt down Stonebanks.
Unfortunately wielding this massive cast of new and old characters through one explosive encounter after another leaves very little time for any character development. Added to that are a highly predictable plot, stilted dialogue and frequent close-ups of characters staring into the camera. While Antonio Banderas plays the comic relief, in the form of a Spanish assassin named Galgo, even his incessant chatter feels overdone by the third act.
Of course, we know that before the sun sets on these mature mercenaries, Ross will need to turn to them once again to help him save the day. Meanwhile, audiences have to wade through an endless array of explosions and an armory gunfire exchanges before the final showdown in this generational battle.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Expendables 3.
How does this movie script pit the generations against one another? Is either group able to take out the enemy without the help of the other? What do they learn from the each other?
How do you feel about the comic relief provided by the Galgo character? Is he all talk or does he have real skills to contribute to the team?
How believable are these aging actors as mercenaries? Do you think their characters will appeal to older audience? How interested do you think younger viewers will be?