The Expendables 3 ** (out of five)

Collect the whole set.
Collect the whole set.

Stallone must go after Bad Guy Mel Gibson, who isn’t allowed to play good guys anymore. Stallone is worried his team of old guys will die, so he gets Kelsey Grammar, some sort of muscle pimp, to get him a team of young guys. But his old guys are bored, so they come along to. Many bullets are fired.

The wittiest thing about the film are the many, at times quite obscure, references to other Stallone films. Cliffhanger, Rocky, and Cop Land are all subtly referenced within one five minute section. Unfortunately that leaves nearly another two hours of barron, witless entertainment. Whenever bullets aren’t flying there is an attempt at witty banter. Unfortunately each and every time it’s a failed attempt. Best, from Gibson to Stallone: “Either you snappin’ my spine or me snappin’ yours – you know, make it snappy.”

Dolph Lundgren looks awful. Antonio Banderas looks great. Gibson looks a combo of the two. Harrison Ford shows up in a bureaucratic role and Arnold Schwarzenegger does too, although both get to pilot things. Grammar gets the most dialogue, but Stallone gets the most close ups (Gibson comes second, despite having. Relatively small role; perhaps Aussie director Patrick Hughes was paying respect, or perhaps Stallone, who owns is franchise, was).

It’s no fun, no rah-rah adventure; it’s violent and coarse. Maybe the first one, or the second one, was one to go to with one’s dad for fond, nostalgic popcorn grins; there’s nothing to grin at here. A repetitive, obsessively morbid focus talking about death and dying doesn’t lighten the mood. The action is relentless and decent but not fresh, and fresh, frankly, is all that was needed here.

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