The controversy over the leak of “The Expendables 3” three weeks before its U.S. release, as well as David Pierce’s argument that he was going to torrent it but still see in theaters, which made it OK (which, no) was probably more exciting than the actual film is going to be. Early reviews for the film are out, both from London (where it premiered Monday) and a few U.S. outlets. The word? “Well, what did you expect?”
Critics haven’t really piled on the film so much as regarded it with a sense of weariness. The series’ shamelessness and in-jokey attitude has grown tiresome, and the PG-13 form shaves away the initial draw of tough old guys doing tough things in a semi-old-fashioned violent way. Some praise for Mel Gibson diving headfirst into villain territory (probably all he can do now that he’s as well known for being hateful as he is for his acting) aside, there’s not much new to be seen here.
“The Expendables 3” hits theaters August 15.
Justin Chang, Variety
The previous two movies, although barely defensible, were at least enlivened by a sly awareness of their own awfulness, and got by on the strength of their no-nonsense, R-rated brutality. But that grisly sense of purpose is nowhere to be found in “The Expendables 3,” which, for clearly commercial reasons, has opted for a more audience-friendly PG-13 rating — a gutless decision that drains the action of its excitement, its visceral impact and its glorious disreputability. By the time the movie finally arrives at an incoherent endgame set in some fictional Middle Eastern hellhole, where editors Sean Albertson and Paul Harb try their damnedest to make sense of a whirlwind of action involving rolling tanks, speeding motorcycles and dive-bombing helicopters, it’s at once impossible to follow what’s going on and impossible to care in any event. Read more.
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
The dubious joy of the previous “Expendables” films was rooted in the sense that they were in on the joke: the first offered the down-and-dirty pleasure of watching bad guys pop like balloons at the hands of Terry Crews and his shotgun the size of a water butt; the second, the cheerful brainlessness of having a villain, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, called Vilain. The difference here is that, for all the cast’s reheated catchphrases and grandfatherly winking, there’s no joke to be in on. Read more.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
The vets, from Snipes and Ford to Kelsey Grammer and Arnold Schwarzenegger, coast through the film, treating it like the lark that it is, but Gibson at least seems to have realized that his current state of pariah-dom makes him an eminently hissable villain. Going to even darker places than he did in “Machete Kills,” Gibson doesn’t hold back on the sneery swagger, apparently figuring that if much of the audience already hates him, he can use that emotion to his advantage as a performer. Beats being ignored. Read more.
Although “The Expendables 3” remains faithful to the series’ B-movie roots, what becomes increasingly clear is that the issue of franchise fatigue isn’t so much attributable to the initially inspired template that put highly recognizable, aging action stars back in the game as it is to increasingly formulaic plotlines. With no higher purpose than generating cash and allowing for a few shared laughs among old buddies on repetitive assignments to take out tyrannical despots and nefarious arms dealers, the Expendables lack the dimensionality of enduring screen characters, despite the iconic roles many of these actors have played in other films. Read more.
Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
For fans of “The Expendables” series, you have to assume, this is exactly what they want. A self-conscious retread of the glory days of the 1980s action movie, this trilogy is actually much more of a modern, sanitised variant, with the blood and guts of its template movies edited away, and a colour-graded sheen slathered over everything, making for self-indulgent, mildly pernicious essay in gun-worship. Read more.