The Expendables 3



Action less gory but still constant in overcooked sequel.
  • Review Date: August 15, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Teamwork is a big deal here, and one character even remarks that her teammates are her "family." But otherwise there's a lot of senseless violence with no consequences. The main character decides to retire his team and recruit newer, younger members for a dangerous mission that could be suicide, which doesn't always feel right.

Positive role models

Unless you count the idea of physical role models inspiring kids to get into shape or learn martial arts, self-defense, or even climbing, these characters aren't particularly worthy of emulation. They work together well, but their achievements basically consist of violence with no repercussions.


Far less blood and gore than the first two installments, but there's still wall-to-wall shooting (with everything from small pistols to huge automatic weapons), fighting, stabbing, chases, and explosions. Blood is mainly shown in the form of injuries, such as a slight bloody lip. One of the heroes is shot and seriously wounded and must be sent to the hospital.


One of the characters is a female mixed martial arts fighter, and she's briefly shown in revealing outfits. Brief moments of innuendo.


"F--k" is used once. "S--t" is used a few times. Other words used at least once include "p---y," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "damn," "bastard," "ass," "a--hole," "c--ksucker," "balls," "goddamn," "hell," and "idiot."


Quick glimpse of the HP logo on a laptop.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In the previous films, Dolph Lundgren's character was shown to have an addiction problem. When he gets "fired," he's shown drinking from a flask a few times, indicating that he might be falling off the wagon. A character is shown drinking a beer at home. Characters celebrate with shots in a bar. Some characters smoke cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Expendables 3 is the third movie in Sylvester Stallone's over-the-top action franchise. The first two were full of bloody, gory violence; while this one still has wall-to-wall shooting, stabbing, fighting, chasing, and explosions, it feels more cartoonish and is far less gruesome (hence the switch to PG-13 from the earlier installments' R). Language is still strong, with one "f--k," plus "s--t," "a--hole," "p---y," and others. In the other movies, one character was shown to be a drug addict and an alcoholic; this time around, he's shown drinking from a flask in one or two brief scenes, as if falling off the wagon. Characters drink socially in other scenes, and some smoke cigars. There's brief innuendo, some of it centered around mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey, who's sometimes shown in revealing outfits. Teen fans of the first two films will want to see this one for sure, but beware of a distinct drop in quality.

What's the story?

After rescuing an old team member, "Doc" (Wesley Snipes), the Expendables -- led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) -- proceed to tackle a new mission. Unfortunately, not only do they fail, but also they learn that an old foe, Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), is still alive. When a team member is shot, Barney decides to disband the group and recruit some new, younger members to go after Stonebanks. But when that mission fails, too, it's up to the original team, as well as some other adventurous outsiders, to charge to the rescue. Can the new and old Expendables work together well enough to survive?

Is it any good?


Based on pure nostalgia, with a nod to teamwork and not much else, Stallone's The Expendables (2010) was a junky-looking downer, but it was a huge hit. The Expendables 2 (2012) was somehow a marked improvement, with better action and more downtime between characters ... but it was less of a hit. And now THE EXPENDABLES 3 moves back in the wrong direction again.

The violence may be less gruesome in this installment, but it's also jagged, jarring, and disorienting. The sheer number of characters doesn't help; in certain scenes, there are half a dozen things going on. With action taking up the bulk of the movie, character interactions feel abbreviated and truncated. With a couple of fleeting exceptions, characters don't really get a chance to do or say much. Certainly Stallone and Statham's chummy banter has diminished. Perhaps worse, the entire idea of recruiting "kids" to protect the older teammates feels wrong. The future of action looks pretty... inactive.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about The Expendables 3's violence. How did it affect you? What impact did it have? How does it compare to the type/scale of violence in the first two films? Why do you think they changed it this time around?

  • Many of the characters in the film smoke and drink. How does this make them look? Do they seem cool? Do you think that was the intent?

  • What's the appeal of these action heroes, whose careers range over several decades? How do they compare with the younger characters in the movie?

  • Is Luna a female role model? Does she present an unrealistic body image? Do the male characters present an unrealistic body image for boys?

  • What did Barney learn over the course of the movie? Did any of the other Expendables share his journey? Are they heroes? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 15, 2014
DVD release date:November 25, 2014
Cast:Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas
Director:Patrick Hughes
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language

This review of The Expendables 3 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written bycommonsense2001 November 30, 2014

Why iffy for 14?

Yes this movie has non stop action, but that doesn't mean that it's scary at all. It just means that it's perfect for an eleven year ild who is getting into action movies. There is no blood, just explosions and gunfire. Even if a lot of people die, it's not like they're characters that we know, they're just henchman and extras who are pretending to be shot. Overall it may have a lot of gunfire but just let your kid watch it. (even though it's a bad movie) There is a lot of cursing and bad words, but if you're willing to let your kid hear that then it's fine.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byrebo344 December 21, 2014
I'm sorry, but this is the most disappointing one. It was fun, but I wish it wasn't PG-13. Mel Gibson was the best thing about the movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written byerica921 November 29, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide