Critical Mass: Most ‘Expendables 3’ reviews not in on the joke.
The Expendables franchise still has some muscle, but its biggest challenge moving forward might be finding new recruits that can provide the same charge for fans of 1980s action movies. In the original film, the draw was the Big Three: Sly, Arnold, and Bruce Willis together, blowing things up old-school. This time around, they’re joined by Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, and Kelsey Grammer, among others. (Tom Selleck, limber up.)
Expendables 3 knows its audience, and the team’s mission is clear. Sylvester Stallone’s ringleader is still shredded, Arnold still puffs on his stogie, and filling the absent Willis’s shoes—at least in nostalgia value—is Harrison Ford’s CIA fixer. The franchise is about creative destruction—or just destruction—and the old-school casting has single-handedly made the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game moot. Hmmm… Kevin Bacon would make a great Expendables 4 villain.
But the latest Expendables adventure does have a secret weapon, a scenery-chewing villain who is worth a dirty dozen or more middle-aged action stars: Mel Gibson. “Whatever you might think of Gibson, let’s at least acknowledge that it’s a pretty inspired idea to cast him as a villain in a big, splashy summer movie,” writes EW‘s Chris Nashawaty, in his review. “The actor seems to understand this better than anyone and he plays up his sadistic, loose-cannon villainy like he’s on a Hawaiian vacation. He’s an unrepentant baddie tossing off manic arias of profanity and dishing out bareknuckle beat downs. In a way, he’s the perfect movie villain—someone we can all feel good about loathing. And for the record, he’s excellent.”