“The Expendables 3” is the movie equivalent of fast food, McDonald’s at the megaplex. If you’ve seen the first two “Expendables,” you know exactly what you’ll be getting with the third: a testosterone burger, heavy on the ketchup with a hefty helping of hot lead on the side.
“E3” is a triumph of stunt casting, an assemblage of aging action stars: Stallone! Schwarzenegger! Snipes! Gibson! Banderas! Ford! They’re relics, really, desperate to prove they’re still relevant. That’s particularly true of Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson, eager to get back in audience good graces after running afoul of the law (Snipes: tax evasion; prison) and public opinion (Gibson: highly publicized, crazed, career-killing tantrums).
With Stallone’s and Schwarzenegger’s individual projects routinely tanking these days, only “Expendables” movies, with their worldwide big box-office grosses, have returned them to something approaching their former glories.
So back they go, grabbing up big guns and ducking big explosions, now and then cracking wise (Snipes has been given a tax-evasion joke), doing what they do because it seems they don’t know anything else they can do that audiences will want to see.
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“E3’s” plotting is so lazy it qualifies as negligence. In the picture’s two biggest set pieces, Stallone’s band of Expendables mercenaries practically stroll into battle in broad-daylight raids mowing down hundreds of extras. Planning? Stealth? Believability? Forget it.
When a mission goes wrong and Stallone’s character feels obliged to fire his old crew and recruit a gaggle of younger guns, the newbies’ personalities are barely sketched. Then they’re quickly sidelined so that the old guys can ride to their rescue.
Predictable as the sunrise, all of it.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org