By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a more-of-the-same action threequel, aimed squarely at gun-worshipping viewers unconcerned with the possibility of a been-there-done-that letdown.
The Expendables 3 is yet another reunion for ’80s action stars sporting automatic weapons and narrowly escaping incendiary explosions, and once again about as check-your-brains-at-the-door expendable and disposable as movies get.
Returning as musclebound mercenaries are Jason Statham, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. And added to the mix are Antonio Banderas (the film’s one-man blast of motormouth comic relief), Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, and Harrison Ford, with Mel Gibson turning up as an adversary, the arms dealer who was a co-founder and member of the Expendables.
Like its two predecessors (2010’s The Expendables and 2012’s The Expendables 2), The Expendables 3 is an old-school action flick, an action-adventure thriller co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.
The original, which certainly triggered Stallone’s comeback, saw his team of mercenaries hired to assassinate a Latin American dictator.
Stallone once again plays Barney Ross, a mercenary with lots of tough, resourceful colleagues and a CIA contract to thwart Gibson’s murderous arms dealer, who just happens to have been a co-founder and member of the Expendables but has turned rogue.
Director Patrick Hughes (Red Hill) keeps the action nonstop and the editing style hyperkinetic to accommodates all the comic-book violence.
The underdeveloped, plot-hole-filled screenplay that Stallone, who wrote the story, co-authored with Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedict has about as much interest in narrative and character development as the target audience is likely to bring with them, which is to say little or none.
But the screenwriting committee has also taken the curious approach (are they perhaps fishing for a younger target audience?) of sidelining the older crew of marquee names while Ross rounds up a younger, more nondescript group in a sequence that feels like an unnecessary and unwelcome side-trip interruption of the franchise’s signature “of-age-ness.”
On the bright side, though, script-wise, at least there are a decent number of in jokes and attempts at self-mockery.
Following two R-rated entries, this third offering is rated PG-13, the violence having been rendered slightly less graphic and bloody, presumably for commercial reasons.
That said, for unapologetic action junkies, this amped-up, muscular, largely incoherent dose of testos-Stallone has shoot-em-up energy galore, but little if anything in the way of heft or grace.
So we’ll explode 2 stars out of 4 for this one-dimensional but watchable geri-action thriller. The Expendables 3 may be aptly titled, but it’s unlikely to be the franchise’s swan song.