This latest installment in Sylvester Stallone’s action franchise is filled with beefy heroes, a really bad guy and an endless barrage of bullets as the murder and mayhem continues. Read on…
The opening sequence features a helicopter-versus-train battle in which Barney Ross (Stallone) and what’s left of his crew help a fellow mercenary, a knife expert known as Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes), escape from incarceration. Barney needs Doc to help him intercept an arms deal in Somalia. But their mission fizzles when they discover the bigwig brokering the deal is Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former Expendable whom Barney thought he’d killed when he went rogue. Determined to take down sociopathic Stonebanks, Barney dismisses his former crew (Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jason Statham. Jet Li) and – with the help of Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), hires younger, more agile and tech-savvy newbies (Kellan Lutz, Antonio Banderas, Glen Powell, mixed-martial-arts champ Ronda Rousey, boxer Victor Ortiz). Ferried by competitor Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and joined by Agent Drummer (Harrison Ford), who wants Stonebanks to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, they’re off to do the CIA’s dirty work once again. Only, things don’t go exactly as planned.
Co-screenwriter Stallone make sure every action icon gets a token scene, while director Patrick Hughes propels the formulaic soldiers-of-fortune story. If you’re curious why Bruce Willis is a ‘no show’ after appearing in the first two movies, apparently, he wanted $4 million for four days’ work; Stallone offered him $3 million, so Willis walked. But Wesley Snipes is back, self-referentially alluding to his real-life issue with tax evasion. Stallone uses his usual three expressions: sorrowful, strained and sneering, so it’s up to loquacious Antonio Banderas to enliven the tedium.
FYI: Pirates were able to steal a print, most likely from an independent special-effects finishing firm, releasing it on the Internet in July so 2.2 million fans were able to download it free.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Expendables” is a tired 3, filled with punishing chase scenes and repetitive gunfire.