The Expendables 3 arrives in theatres this weekend with a PG-13 rating, becoming the first installment in the series to make itself accessible to a teen audience and re-igniting a familiar debate across the blogosphere. We’ve already seen sequels and reboots of R-rated ’80s action franchises like The Terminator, Die Hard and Robocop softened up to broaden their appeal and increase their box office numbers. While most of these movies were not particularly well-received, many would argue that the lack of blood and guts was the least of their problems. When it comes to The Expendables, however, the franchise has little reason to exist other than to play to an older crowd and serve as a violent throwback to the days of old. So does a PG-13 rating automatically make The Expendables 3 worse than its predecessors?
In recent years, the action movie landscape has changed from a place where cops and soldiers wage bloody wars against bad guys with bullets to a place where superheroes and CG robots duke it out in much more fantastical fashion. The increasing importance of the teen demographic and a more politically-aware social climate have driven movie studios to focus on escapism over gritty realism. Even when gritty realism is desired, the dreaded “shaky cam” aesthetic and rapid fire editing are often used to tone down violent scenes. But is the graphic violence really so essential or are there other more important elements to making a great action movie? Can a movie still have thrilling action sequences without excessive amounts of blood? Is an R-rated action movie always better than a PG-13 one? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.