“The Expendables 3” is armed to the teeth and ready to fight the big battles — exactly the type of over-the-top guilty pleasure that hungry action film fans will be hankering to see.
Everyone is here: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell, Kelsey Grammer, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mel Gibson.
While on a mission to rescue Doctor Death (Snipes), Barney Ross (Stallone) and his Expendables mercenaries stumble upon the team’s rogue co-founder Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who now operates as a coldblooded arms dealer. When one teammate is nearly killed, Ross retires his old group and assembles a new one consisting of younger Expendables to defeat his enemy. But this attempt ends in failure as well, and the two generations must ignore their rivalry and rally to stop Stonebanks.
If the opening scene in which our geriatric action legends attack an armored train to free Snipes from imprisonment doesn’t strike you as amusing and awesome, you’re likely not to enjoy what comes next. Otherwise, that inner hardcore action film fan of yours will propel you on what turns out to be a wilder, bigger ride than the first and second installments combined.
The set pieces are three times larger and fiercer; more bullets, blades, bombs, and brawn will dominate a viewer’s eyesight.
From the Expendables’ unexpected Somali skirmish with Gibson to the Bucharest infiltration involving the young guns led by Stallone, the hard-hitting action doesn’t relinquish its mega-intense stopping power as it delivers blow after blow.
An extra plate of blockbuster dessert emerges in the form of an abandoned complex battle, in which tanks, helicopters, motorbikes, and legions of troops provide the climax with a boost of adrenaline to make the endless fistfights and shootouts even more fun to witness.
This final sequence may prove to be too lengthy and prolonged for those who can’t stand action lasting that long, but it’ll please anyone interested in that kind of hard-hitting spectacle.
Like the previous films, the humor is as old-fashioned and nostalgic as audiences can envision it, reveling in its innate ability to indulge in jokes that don’t shy away from its tongue-in-cheek nature. It’ll make some snicker, others perhaps groan. Much of this involves Snipes and fellow co-stars Grammer and Banderas, the latter of which never stops talking the moment he makes his first appearance.
The acting falls into, as always, the “so-bad-it’s-good” category — crowd-pleasing physicality, not Oscar-winning speeches, does the real work in “The Expendables 3.” It’s pointless expecting to see high-caliber performances when the only factor that makes the cast members functional is how quickly they can eliminate a target.
When you have old-school action stars, all that really matters is a person’s ability to roll with the punches…literally speaking that is.
The third entry in “The Expendables” series hasn’t changed much in terms of classic style, even with the inclusion of high-tech young blood. And apparently, its action sequences and funny lines show no signs of retirement, which I don’t expect to happen for a while. Why? Because shooting, striking, and smirking are what earn these hired guns their pay… and that big screen lifestyle couldn’t be better for audiences who like seeing that.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
Run time: 2 hours and 6 minutes
Playing: In general release