Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: The Expendables 3

Image courtesy of Lionsgate.
This third - and possibly final - entry in "The Expendables" franchise is pretty by-the-book and the only sense of freshness in this latest picture is - as to be expected - a series of new cast members, including Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, Harrison Ford (filling in for Bruce Willis, whose absence is unexplained) as well as a group of youngins - such as Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell and Kellan Lutz - and Mel Gibson as a particularly nasty heavy.

This latest film is about on-par with the first "Expendables" film and better than the weak second entry in the series. It's filled to the brim with wall-to-wall violence, but the movie's PG-13 rating (down from an R in the previous films) ensures that not too much gore is spotted this time around.

At the beginning of the picture, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone, who also co-wrote the screenplay) and company - Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Dolph Lundgren - help bust Snipes' character out of some prison where he has been languishing for eight years.

The group - who is joined by the younger crew after Ross kicks out his old pals due to their getting over-the-hill and his not wanting them to be killed - takes on a mission to hunt down a former Expendable turned mercenary (Gibson) wanted by a CIA agent (Ford), who joins the mission and drags along Arnold Schwarzenegger - who, as an in-joke continuously instructs other characters to "get in the choppah" - and Jet Li, once again the butt of jokes due to his height.

Banderas livens things up a bit as a wannabe assassin who convinces Ross to take him on, only to annoy all of the other crew members by his non-stop talking. Ford tells Ross - somewhat unconvincingly, due to the film's occasionally draggy two-plus hours - toward the picture's end that he hasn't "had this much fun in a long time," although it's Banderas that seems to be the only person on-board to be doing so.

Despite having lined up virtually every action star - that is, with the exception of Steven Seagal and Jeff Speakman - from the 1980s, "The Expendables" films have never really captured the fun of the uber-violent action movies of that era.

This third entry in the series is not as bad as the previous film, which featured an unnecessary cameo by Chuck Norris, among other things, and it's mostly harmless. There's a little more sense of camaraderie between those involved, even if they are merely spouting off silly one liners. The film isn't outright bad, nor is it quite good either. It might pass muster for those looking for a mindless summer action movie. My guess is that anyone attending the film will know pretty much exactly what they're getting.

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