Expendables 3 fulfills a prediction I made 4 years ago, that Sylvester Stallone is now the first person to have the starring role in 3 franchises (A film franchise defined as having at least 3 entries). This third installment explores the origins of the expendables group and offers more drama and character bits than previous entries.
A mission gone bad reveals Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), co-founder of the Expendables, is still alive. Barney (Stallone) and Conrad had a falling out and Barney thought he killed him. Barney now decides that the life he and his fellow Expendables is living can only end in death. It gets very meta at this point. Stallone basically looks at the audience and says on camera that perhaps they’re getting too old for this business. He calls it quits for his team and decides to go after Conrad, recruiting a younger more tech savy team that includes UFC women’s champion Rhonda Rousey.
Harrison Ford replaces the Bruce Willis character, and while he shows up for action at the end (along with Jet Li) he looks really old in earlier scenes in his suit. Arnold also returns for action and also has a meta moment where he says he’s getting out of this business. He also repeats his often imitated line from Predator of “Get to the Choppa!!!” Wesley Snipes is introduced as an old friend of Barneys who has some banter with Jason Statham, and also provides his own meta moment, joking he was in jail for Tax Evasion. However is is Antonio Banderas who steals the show as a skilled warrior who gets on everyone’s nerves as he simply never stops talking.
Expendables seems to be one of the few franchises that started bad but got better with each entry. (In my opinion the only other example is Universals Mummy reboot.) I didn’t like the first one, the second was at least entertaining. It’s a shame that it took this long into the series to get this good, and it may be too late. At the time of this writing Expendables 3 seems to be a flop at the box office. Either way the story sets up possibilities for future installments, as the Expendables crew now has some younger blood. However it is doubtful that future installments will kill off any of the older actors. Expendables faces a problem similar to other franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is the hero characters always survive. There’s one particular character who I think definitely should have died in this, but survives of course, leaving the feeling that there are no real consequences.
Whether more Expendables films are made or not, one thing I always thought would have been fun was to have prequels in the form of video games. This series easily makes for some killer action video games set in the 80s and 90s. The voices of Stallone, Lundgren, etc would make a nice touch for said games. Comics/novels etc could also be fun. There was a comic book about the past of Mickey Rourke’s character when the first movie came out.
By the way, Mickey Rourke seems to have totally disappeared from this series. That’s a shame because he had one of the two good scenes from the first movie. Expendables 3 in particular opens up story possibilities for video games, comics, etc that would be set in the past. It’s a shame these thing probably won’t happen.
Expendables seems to be one of the few franchises that started bad but got better with each entry.