It's obvious that a great deal of talent — one might even say genius — went into “The Expendables 3.” I refer, of course, to the work of the lawyers and agents who structured the deals and, even more, of the production people who had to organize the shoot to allow the most efficient use of the A-list stars in the smaller roles.
, Jet Li and
were each presumably in and out within a few days;
a tad longer. Coordinating their schedules must have required a lot of organizational agility.
Some of the action icons who appeared in one or both of the two previous “Expendables” films (2010 and 2012) are missing in action this time around —
In their places, we get first-timers
In the 007 tradition, “Expendables 3” opens with a rock 'em, sock 'em action sequence of limited relevance to the rest of the film: Barney (central star
This is followed in short order by another over-the-top sequence: Under orders from
Because the shaken Barney decides he needs to recruit new blood, he "fires" the old gang and brings in young 'uns — plus, through a fairly amusing plot contrivance, a new oldster, the motor-mouthing Galgo (Banderas). Another hour or so of bloodless carnage ensues.
Barney's dismissal of the old gang never really makes sense, and we know that, before the final credits, they'll arrive to save the day, and the two generations will learn to work together in harmony and appreciate each other's virtues and get all chummy and roast marshmallows together. There's a lot of talk about the kids bringing new skills to the table, but it's mostly vague and hypothetical; Thorn (Powell) is a hotshot hacker, but that's as far as it goes. More troublesome is their lack of heft on screen. They have little of the charisma — or at least the iconic familiarity — of the oldsters.
"The Expendables 3" is what it is, and, as bang-bang, blam-blam action spectaculars go, it goes down pretty smoothly — thanks to the sure hand of director Patrick Hughes (who has only one previous feature under his belt). There are a few decent stunt concepts amid all the shooting and blowing things up. Of course, the good guys hit their targets about 90% of the time, and the bad guys' hit rate is maybe 2%, but then realism is not really the point in this franchise and its ilk.
On the plus side, it has a lot more humor than the earlier entries, mostly provided by Banderas. On the down side, it's unnecessarily more than 20 minutes longer, which is — you should pardon the expression — overkill.