The Expendables 3 (3 stars)

The Expendables 3

Stallone, Statham and Schwarzenegger reunite for the third part of the actioner franchise

Sylvester Stallone may have assembled his biggest cast yet for this third instalment in his Expendables franchise but, while certainly enjoyable, it’s also (bullet) riddled with the same problems that beset its predecessors.

The lack of a decent script, negligible depth and sense that many of its, once shooting, stars are well past their best may leave you feeling underwhelmed, if not cheated. And a few more risks could have been taken with the fate of its principals to lend it some edge.

The Expendables 3 delivers on its core audience's expectations, if little more. Incoming director Patrick Hughes (the helmsman behind cult Australian western Red Hill) copes well with the leap in budget size, crafting a suitably explosive actioner featuring impressively mounted set pieces, with a little less of the blood-spilling that once defined these hard men of cinema (it's been shorn and sanitised down to a 12A).

The plot finds Stallone’s Barney Ross pitted against his former ‘brother-in-arms’ and Expendables co-founder Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who's gone rogue and is selling weapons to whoever wants to buy them. In doing so, Ross eschews his long-time colleagues in favour of a younger, more tech-savvy breed of Expendables (including Twilight’s Kellan Lutz and mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey). But when Stonebanks gains the upper hand, the veterans are called back to save the day.

As good as the action is this time around, it’s the interplay between the actors that remains the film’s biggest asset, with Gibson in particular bringing typical intensity to his villainous role, and clearly relishing his acrimonious exchanges with Stallone.

Harrison Ford (replacing Bruce Willis) is also good value, as are Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer, if underused. As strong as many of its components are The Expendables 3 suffers from a desire to play safe; from its lazy formula to its watered-down violence and largely consequence-free peril, and as a result never rises above the level of expendable viewing itself.

General release from Thu 14 Aug.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer #1 (2014) - Sylvester Stallone Movie HD

The Expendables 3

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 2h 6min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Patrick Hughes
  • Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas
  • UK release: 14 August 2014

Mercenary Barney Ross (Stallone) goes up against colleague-gone-rogue Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), a ruthless arms dealer. The action is fine, and the interplay between the somewhat ageing stars remains the film's biggest asset, but a lazy script, watered-down violence and general lack of risk-taking make for predictable…