‘The Expendables 3′
It’s nice that the “Expendables” series continues to strike a blow against age-ism, but does it have to go about it with such a woeful lack of gusto?
Considering how many large-caliber machine guns, tanks and even thermobaric bombs are wreaking havoc much of the time, you’ll probably find that things get pretty dull pretty quickly in “The Expendables 3.” Unless you just can’t get enough of wryly humorous macho posturing from an oversized cast of past, present and wannabe future action heroes.
It’s basically big bullets, big muscles and, presumably, big salaries as usual (though Bruce Willis’ reported demand for $1 million a day resulted in his replacement by 72-year-old Harrison Ford), as Steven Stallone’s Barney Ross leads his large team of aging world-class mercenaries on another impossible mission.
This time, the guys are after kingpin arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), an Expendable co-founder gone rogue, invented for the third installment by co-screenwriter Stallone. Just as he invented longtime brother in arms Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes) for the sake of a bang-up opening sequence involving busting him out of a heavily armed prison train. (In the film’s one genuinely funny line, Snipes explains to the other Expendables, who he’s never met, apparently, that he was in prison for tax evasion.)
It helps to have Gibson around to inject some vitality as he usually does, playing the bad guy with just the right combination of sociopathic menace and eyeball-rolling exasperation. “How hard can it be to kill 10 men?” he asks during the protracted climactic battle between the Expendables and his personal army. “You can’t even would a couple?
Unfortunately, the film is packed with so many first-, second- and third-tier action icons, all requiring token screen time that we don’t see enough of him. Instead, we get Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Ford, Snipes, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Antonio Banderas and Jet Li (shamefully under-utilized, but what do you expect when his character is named Yin Yang), plus newbies Victor Ortiz (a boxing champ), Ronda Rousey (a mixed-martial-arts champ) — each getting five or 10 or 15 minutes in the forefront. With the result that “Expendables 3” feels punishingly overlong at 130 minutes.
All that said, action fans may feel it has its moments. Some of these guys are very good at what they do, after all, particularly Stallone. Most of the time here he looks pained, strained and sorrowful, but no one does a slow-burn vengeful close-up better, doleful bloodshot eyes slowly filling with anger. That and his patented sneer. With a look like that in his arsenal, guns should be unnecessary.Tags: movies