Murderous mayhem ensues. This is an incredible series of car chases and explosions.
Lauren Cohan is a television reporter working for Billionaire Mr Weyland (Ving Rhames - Surrogates ). Weyland has a huge portfolio, including a TV network and the US Prison system. He may even be related to one of the founders of the Mega-Corp from the Alien series. Anyway, Cohan invents the idea of maximizing TV ratings by turning prison riots into a live, televised spectator sport. This is developed into the Death Race, and when Goss ends up in prison he soon becomes the top competitor.
Stallone leads a rag-tag mix of mercenaries, from fellow 1980s star Dolph Lundgren ( Universal Soldier ) to more recent action heroes Jason Statham ( Ghosts of Mars ), Jet Li ( The One ) and token black guy Terry Crews. When not hanging out in the tattoo parlour of Mickey Rourke ( Iron Man 2 ) they kill Somali fishermen on behalf of a MegaCorp.
CIA goon Bruce Willis ( Surrogates ) hires the Mercs to assassinate a Latin American dictator (the Cuban cop in Dexter). The real target is the dictator's backer, drug baron Eric Roberts ( Dr Who TV Movie ). In order to defeat the villains and save the predictable damsel in distress, the unstoppable crew must kill every man in the town between the ages of 15 and 50. No problems there.
Among other things, this completely fails the Bechdel test. The only other proper female character is Charisma Carpenter , who is Statham's love interest long enough to give him an excuse to beat up a wife-beater.
Basically, the film staggers from one unbelievably OTT action scene to the next one. There is no suspense, we know EXACTLY what is going to happen at every step. That said, nobody really cares. If you liked the most recent Rambo film, you will love this!
The roster gets a shake-up this time. Stallone and Statham are still in charge, supported by Lungren, Couture and Crews. Jet Li and Liam Hemsworth both get a look-in, while the team also gets a token girl. Strangely, she is the only one who is a newcomer - an irony that while the men are all aged over fifty (except Hemsworth), the girl is in her twenties.
One thing that is remarkable is the lack of swearing. Apparently the film was meant to be a PG-12, so it was dumbed down for family audiences. The word is that thanks to a backlash by fans, Stallone was forced to put in extra scenes of ultra-violence. However, despite the on-screen decapitations the dialogue is still child-friendly so Yanks can take their kiddies to see it.
Stallone retires his old team, even though they did great work in the previous two movies. The second act of the film is Stallone recruiting a new team (with help from Kelsey Grammer – Transformers 4 ). This includes relative newcomer Kellan Lutz ( Legend of Hercules ) and the first woman Expendable – Ronda Rousey (a slightly younger version of Gina Carano ). They are more hi-tech than the old mob, using 21st Century hacking techniques to bring this up-to-date with modern techno-thrillers. Of course, it all goes wrong so there is a cliffhanger at the end of the Second Act.
Finally, the climactic third act features Stallone pulling his old buddies out of retirement. This is just as well for Statham, because Charisma Carpenter is nowhere in sight this time. The CIA get directly involved again, with Bruce Willis’ replacement (a foul-mouthed Harrison Ford – Ender’s Game ) arriving with more goons – Arnie Schwartzenegger and Jet Li!
The place is run by Jim Caviezel ( Passion of the Christ ), a vicious SOB who has used Stallone's textbook to construct an apparently escape-proof prison. The head guard is Vinny Jones ( Swordfish ), while the Medical officer is Sam Neill ( Alcatraz ). Yes, Christ and Damien Thorne are on the same side for once!
Luckily, while on the inside, Stallone is befriended by his co-star from The Expendables series, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Cage is subjected to a series of dangerous test scenarios, including an encounter with a dangerous drug warlord (Danny Trejo - Machete ).
XXX is sent on his first mission. He must infiltrate a gang of Euro-Trash anarchists run by Marton Csokas ( Xena: Warrior Princess ). The good news is that he gets to hook up with tough-girl Asia Argento .
Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson - Marvel Avengers ) has a rival in the US military-industrial complex. The villain is Colonel Decker - oops, Defence Secretary Deckert ( Spiderman ). If only they had just made Nick Fury versus Green Goblin instead.
US Intelligence boss Marke ( Toni Collette ) has obtained a super-weapon, Pandora's Box. This is just a codename, like the Rabbit's Foot in Mission Impossible 3 , not literally the ancient artefact from Lara Croft: Cradle of Life . She displays the device to a conference of her fellow Intelligence Heads, a group of rent-a-villains like Nigel Bennett ( Lexx ). Then a highly-skilled intruder (Donnie Yen - Rogue One: A Star Wars Tale ) breaks in and steals the weapon!
Marke has a tech nerd ( Nina Dobrev ), but needs a team of specialists for field-work. She finds Xander Cage (Vin Diesel - Riddick ), who faked his death after the first film. Cage has his own team of buddies, including a stunt-driver (Rory McCann - Game of Thrones ) and a sniper ( Ruby Rose ). They go undercover, posing as crooks on the run.
This is a cheesy and cheerful action extravaganza. It displays no respect for the laws of physics, although it dies display a lot of violence without consequences. Like the John Wayne movies of the Hayes Code era, a cowboy can get shot but he never bleeds. The film may have a PG-13 certificate, but that is only because of the language. Dobrev says This is f*cking great! at the end.
The Rock gets the blame for Dom's defection. He gets a burn notice, and ends up in prison with previous villain Jason Statham ( The Mechanic ). Mister Nobody (Kurt Russell - The Thing (1982) ) gets them both out, but now they must work together. Nobody's sidekick Mister Nothing (Scott Eastwood - Texas Chainsaw 3D ) starts as a whiny pencil-pusher but soon becomes the team's token white guy, replacing the Paul Walker character (who has gotten his happy ending with Dom's sister). The result is a formulaic live-action cartoon that glamourises all kinds of car stunts, which is ironic because one of the main actors of the series died in a car crash.
The trailer gives away everything and nothing. Basically the whole movie is two and a half hours worth of car chases, while the trailer is only two and a half minutes of the same. The street-racers use their super-cars to fight a submarine at the north pole. What is next - Fast and Furious in Space?