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Expendables 3, The


Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kelsey Grammer, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li

Director: Patrick Hughes

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two Expendables adventures but, judging by this below-par entry in the series, it's time that Stallone's invincibles - sorry, Expendables - were drawing the pensions some of them look overdue on, rather than the usual heavy artillery.

The best bit is the opening sequence when the eponymous team takes control of a train and releases an old comrade (Snipes) from an impregnable East European prison by simply ramming the joint. This is dynamic, impactful and splendidly edited action, but it isn't matched by what follows.

Back at their familiar bar, Barney (Stallone) tells his remaining men (Statham, Lundgren, Snipes, Couture) that he's dumping them 'because it's time', but presumably for the sake of the plot, so that he and one of his bosses (Grammer) can start a Magnificent Seven-style search for fresh young talent.

They collect four charisma-free action figures to help capture back-from-the-dead arms dealer Stonebanks (Gibson), which they do. But, after an interlude in which they remove the gag from their captive's mouth so that can wind old friend/enemy Barney up, a rocket launcher puts the fab four into Gibson's hands and Sly in the river.

Following pow-wows with bosses Trench (Schwarzenegger) and Drummer (Ford), Barney sets out for revenge with a voluble Spaniard (Banderas) and - surprise, surprise - his old crew.

Ford has replaced Bruce Willis, who supposedly fell out over money, and his stylish acting puts most of the cast to shame. He has a nice in-joke line, too. 'You can forget about Church' (Willis' old role), he tells Stallone. 'He's out of the picture.'

The ludicrous climax, in which Sly, Ford, Schwarzenegger and their men take on Gibson and the entire 'Uzmenistan' army, without any of them getting killed, is an inferior imitation of similar endings from previous 'Expendable' adventures, with touches of The Raid thrown in.

'How much are we getting paid for this?' demands Statham. 'Not enough,' snaps Stallone. Too much, though, from the look of this one.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Technicolor.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Aug 2014