The Expendables 3 Unrated Edition (2014)
The theatrical release of The Expendables 3 in 2014 was severely hamstrung by the producer’s decision to court a wider audience with a PG-13 rating. The film although profitable, still fell short of its predecessor’s box office taking. Many fans of the franchise subsequently looked to the DVD and Blu-ray release to provide a harder cut of the movie, similar to the previous R rated instalments.
Sadly, this was not the case. The Expendables 3 Unrated Edition does include some additional action content and one new expositionary scene but overall there is nothing that radically improves the film or makes it stronger in content than the theatrical release.
What Unrated Edition of the movie offers is five minutes of extra material, including an additional scene of dialogue between the younger member of the mercenary team. It should be noted that it makes no significant difference to the film’s narrative. The remainder of new content consists of additional action sequences in the movie’s climatic battle. This is predominantly expanded knife work by Doc (Wesley Snipes) and Lee Christmas (Jason Statham). There is also a smattering of additional profanity throughout the proceedings. Although this new material would have pushed the movie into an R rating if it had been included in the theatrical release, it still wouldn't have made it comparable to the first two films.
So, to clarify the situation, the first two major action scenes in the The Expendables 3 Unrated Edition are the same as the theatrical release. The train rescue and the dock shootout remain relatively bloodless, although they are well constructed. I was especially saddened that nothing was added to the scene in which a steel cable was strung across the rail track. I was hoping for some decapitations and bisections but no such luck. It is not until about fifty minutes into the movie we get the first new content. An additional scene aboard the transport plane where the new team of Expendables discuss Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). It neither enhances nor detracts from the theatrical version and just reinforces the established group dynamics.
It is during the final battle in the ruined hotel, that the bulk of the new material is added. However this is mainly longer edits of fights and the use of alternative takes. For example there is a scene where Jason Statham uses a soldier as a meat shield that I don't recollect being in the theatrical release.
The changes to the various knife fights are as follows. There are more stabbings with an emphasis upon sound effects. Wesley Snipes knifes a group of soldiers in more detail and Jason Statham dispatches a particularly large foe by stabbing down into his shoulder with a large blade.
Other differences include more physical blows during the hand to hand combat and possibly more bullet impacts (although these remain conspicuously bloodless). Because the changes are so minor it is hard to tell without doing a direct side by side comparison between theatrical and unrated edition. I suspect there may be some nominal CGI blood spray and bullet holes added to the Mel Gibson's demise. I'm sure a more comprehensive analysis between versions will eventually appear over at Movie-Censorship.com in due course.
Sadly, The Expendables 3 Unrated Edition does not fundamentally change my opinion of the overall movie. It was a mistake by the film makers to make such a tonal shift and although the longer cut can offer some solid action entertainment, it lacks the bombast and excess of its two prequels. If a fourth movie is forthcoming let us hope it returns to a format that appeals to the core demographic.