Rated: PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 15, 2014 Released by: Lions Gate Films
Overblown, poorly paced and insipidly depicted as a curiously bloodless entertainment for old and young looking for an explosive high body count more than even the latest Rambo is the Sylvester Stallone (who co-writes rather dismally in an overstuffed, nary advancing manner with stretches of cringe-worthy dialogue) starrer The Expendables 3, known as the new millennium's pre-eminent geri-action franchise (of course, ideally seen on large-formatted screens). "Frequent moderate violence" describes the endless mayhem which careens between Europe, the US and Mexico and back again. A throwback to the kind of pictures Stallone, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger made in the 1980s. "It's a great plan...if it was 1985". I guess Norris and Bruce Willis knew what they were doing when they booked out of this installment which is billed as the titular team's most personal battle yet. Less freewheeling than its predecessor, but still maintaining a modicum of witty, snappy banter.
A former Expendable doctor with nothing sharp in his possession (Wesley Snipes, okay still in his pugilistic prowess but really underutilized) is rescued from eight years of Russian (black-ops) captivity. So, Stallone's petal to the metal Barney Ross gets the tankers, trucks, guns, knives, jeeps, missiles, speedboats, planes, choppers, and armored prison train going with the incendiary result leaving Caesar (Terry Crews of Draft Day) in critical condition. The target of the mission is an ex-Expendable, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson of The Beaver, Machete Kills), who flees the scene unharmed. And, this co-founder apparently has a history with Barney that Stallone and his fellow scenarists doesn't really care about with hand-to-hand combat interspersed with endless gunfights.
Barney is more sensitive to his group's welfare, and with the help of Kelsey Grammer's grizzled, somewhat amusing Bonaparte recruits a younger, high-tech savvy, but not so sharp unit (Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz among the buff, athletic types). A gratingly ebullient scene-stealer, an eccentric, if loquacious assassin is Galgo (Antonio Banderas, remembered as Zorro opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones, or in the El Mariachi films like Desperado opposite the steamy Salma Hayek).
An opportunity of a day and a half remains to eliminate the crazy, if cunning Stonebanks so there are some of slick set-pieces staged with little flair (especially when it concerns filming distance and editing) by Patrick Hughes (known more Down Under than in the West) and plenty of derision to go around including Willis's absence, as well as the accent of Jason Statham's right-hand man Lee Christmas. But Jet Li's Yin Yang and Dolph Lundgren's Gunnar Jensen are mostly part of the superfluous macho regeneration once Stonebanks gains the upper hand. But, for those cognizant of some of the performers like the attractively buff Rousey the filmmaking hardly makes the most of their attributes.
The scope of it all and the cast is larger with the old crew returning to cause more carnage comparing their wrinkly virility with their younger/whippersnapper counterparts with perhaps Harrison Ford's operation officer Max Drummer (getting back it seems into Millennium Falcon flying mode) a worthy, if lifeless substitute for Willis's Church (the actor reportedly had a falling out with Stallone). Some will like to hear Arnold barking out "Get to da choppa!", but Gibson really chomps on the scathing attributes of Stonebanks who would give Martin Riggs and his hand puppet from the aforementioned movie with Jodie Foster a run for their money. All fired-up and jingoistic for the masses looking for a variety of violent outbursts (really only about a handful of true action scenes) but toned down by its rating, The Expendables 3 cuts through the off-screen woes and on-screen lackluster vengeful madness (as Gibson, Banderas and Snipes fare best under the regrettable circumstances) with dunderheaded glee.
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