Film: The Expendables 3
Direction: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes
They’re back. The muscle-bound gang of ageing action icons reunites for the third instalment of the testosterone-charged franchise. Setting out to reassert that age doesn’t matter. The Expendables 3 breaks no new ground, but is marginally more entertaining than its predecessors.
Also read: Expendables 3 runs out of steam
Reprising his role of the world-weary ex-soldier turned gun-for-hire, Sylvester Stallone is tasked with tracking down a maniacal arms dealer. Mistakenly believed to have been killed, the baddie (Mel Gibson, oozing steely menace) is now determined to exterminate the titular tough guys.
Watch: Expendables 3 is for 80's style action lovers only
Fearing for their lives, the beleaguered mercenary decides to replace his battlescarred squad with younger new recruits. The fresh faced backup team includes a computer hacker (Glen Powell) and a relentlessly talkative sharpshooter (Antonio Banderas, having a blast). Also along for the ride, is a curmudgeonly government official (Harrison Ford, surprisingly listless).
Australian director Patrick Hughes whose only previous feature was the underrated western Red Hill (2010) orchestrates the comic-book style action with verve. The viewer is subjected to the usual barrage of gun-bouts, hand to hand combat and effects laden explosions of every conceivable kind.
In a fast and furious opening sequence, a former comrade is freed from an armoured prison train. Adept at wielding a blade, he (Wesley Snipes) jokes about his incarceration for tax evasion and refers to himself as "the knife before Christmas". Rooted in familiar genre conventions, the threadbare plot pays little attention to establishing character dynamics.
Mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey fetches up in the mandatory kick-butt heroine role of a bouncer capable of fighting her way out of any predicament.
They may be well past their prime but the once A-list action stars (besides Stallone, there are cameos by Jason Statham, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger) still display the cool machismo of their 1980s heyday. Just for the presence of these grizzled oldtimers, The Expendables 3 merits a trip to the multiplex.