Watching Expendables 3 does so many things for you. It makes you appreciate exactly how many holes there are even in the smoothest-looking faces. It makes you wonder if all movies featuring wannabe geriatrics (let's be real here, most of these guys haven't even hit retirement age yet). It makes you see the human flesh in ways you cannot un-see. It allows you to hate Mel Gibson, the way God intended.
Most importantly, though, it makes you battle the inner demons that tell you to laugh out loud at a scene where a man is going through a primeval agony. If you prevail, well, the rest of the film is easy. If you don't, though, it will have you wondering what it was about the '80s films that made human suffering seem so patently ironic.
You enter the movie hall, and the scene shifts almost instantly to an insane amount of explosions. If you miss the very first 5 minutes (or seconds, we cannot be sure), well, tough luck about missing out on your tiny but vital dose of plot for the next half hour or so. Until then, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) get to show you around the practical-effects department, with Mel Gibson flying in later to poop all over the party and severely injure Hale Caeser in the process, and then flying right out. Like the bag of poops he is. "But fullhyd, bags of poops don't fly", you say. We say, "Pshaw!"
Once the "boys" are flown out of whichever hellhole they were supposed to create havoc in, CIA operative Max Drummer (Harrison Ford) convinces boss-dude Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) that his team is "too old for this shit". (What? Not the same Ye Olde Badasse franchise catchphrase? Well, "Whatcha gon' do?") Ross then scouts for young blood, with the help of Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), for a solid 20 minutes, and ends up with ex-Marine John Smilee (Kellan Lutz), weapons expert Mars (Victor Ortiz), nightclub bouncer wimmin Luna (Ronda Rousey), and computer wizard Thorn (Glen Powell).
The original team of The Expendables find it mean that they were... expended? And drop into Ross' headquarters to bully the new kids and the walk off in a huff. Point 1 for the 'old' guys.
Meanwhile, Ross, with the help of his new team, cooks up a new plan to take Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) hostage, which they do with the power of skill, grits and computer magic, because that's what kids are into these days. Point 1 for the new 'kids'.
However, Stonebanks gets away, taking the kids in tow to yet another godforsaken hellhole somewhere in Eastern Europe, and The "The" Expendables need to swoop down to the rescue. So, basically, the 'old' guys win.
Let's push aside for a while the fact that nobody expects a coherent story in these movies. Nobody ever has. There is still the fact that nobody seems to want to be in this movie except Mel Gibson and Sly Stallone. There is also the fact that Sly should always be accompanied by subtitles. Then, there is the worse crime the film commits, which is to take undue advantage of our affection for all of these larger-than-life men who entertained us during our childhood, and then taint it by peppering the whole film with lame in-jokes that we know we should laugh at, but cannot. Because they are bad jokes.
The whole theatre is so chockfull of guys, all of whom are expecting to have a rollicking good time, but cannot because everything about the movie is uncomfortable, so much so that even the explosions get tiresome.
The explosions are well done, so there is that. And you do have a few moments, especially every bit of the soundtrack, that will amuse you in a sitting-in-front-of-the-computer-and-typing-LOL kind of way.
The only people who might genuinely enjoy this film are hipsters doing so ironically. And, sadly, even they are a dying breed, so who was this movie made for, anyway? So, let's hope that this is the eulogy of the franchise that it seems to be, and let The Expendables just relax, already.