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‘Expendables’ returns diminishing

  • This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone, left, and Jason Statham, center, in a scene from "Expendables 3." (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Phil Bray)

In its third incarnation, “The Expendables” has become, well, expendable.

Despite some ruthless new tactics, there’s no saving “The Expendables 3,” the overpopulated third outing of Sylvester Stallone’s all-star action ensemble.

Perhaps recognizing its own mortality, “Expendables 3” goes for a kitchen-sink approach. There’s the injection of AARP-eligible action stars like Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford into the already bursting-at-the-seams cast, as well the addition of some junior Expendables. Those extra bodies don’t add any oomph to the stiff dialogue or predictable plot.

After liberating a long-lost Expendables comrade (Snipes) and watching another (Terry Crews) go down in a battle with Gibson’s maniacal arms dealer, the third installment finds team leader Barney (a more puffy Stallone) booting his pals (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture) in favor of younger, prettier models.

Barney plods across North America with a guerrilla recruiter (Kelsey Grammer) to assemble the Expendables 2.0: an angst-filled soldier (Kellan Lutz), a lippy hacker (Glen Powell), a cocky weapons guru (Victor Ortiz) and a bouncer (mixed-martial artist Ronda Rousey), who is unfortunately reminded every time she’s on screen that — yeah, bro — she’s female.

The unmemorable Millennials are kidnapped almost as quickly as they’re introduced. Obviously, it’s up to the old-timers to save the day. It doesn’t really matter how or why they do it though. Ultimately, it feels like every one other than series shepherd Stallone is merely here to be another face on the crowded 16-person poster, not to actually play any sort of character. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Antonio Banderas provide the film’s comic relief. Banderas does so intentionally, while Schwarzenegger’s return is just laughably bad.


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