New in theaters: “The Expendables 3”

By Craig Martin

When the first “Expendables” came out in 2010, I was quite pleased. It was a fun homage to the over the top action movies of the ’80s and early ’90s and yet still an original take on the formula. Instead of young guns battling it out, the movie used the same action stars popular in those movies.

Having seen “The Expendables” twice was enough. A group of aged mercenaries go to (insert foreign country here) and take out (insert bad guy here). It’s the same concept as the old movies, but now, after three films, it’s less of homage and more of a lazy re-hash.

We saw nothing new in the trailer, just a bunch of old school action figures. Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwarzenegger pop on the screen punctuated by explosions and gunfire. If you liked the trailer, you’re going to love the movie because it’s nothing but a two-hour version of it.

The limited narrative depicts the Expendables on the trail of a ruthless arms dealer, who just so happens to be a former member by the name of Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). Conrad is revealed to be assembling weapons and manpower in order to take out his former team. The Expendables must survive his onslaught in order to put an end to the chaos.

The storyline is so plain that it would take a great director to make something original out of it. That is not the case with “The Expendables 3.” Rookie Patrick Hughes is the director. It is clear that the story takes a back seat on the caboose of this train wreck to the action sequences.

Dialogue is used to simply toss around one-liners until the next action scene. For an action movie, the sets appear to be nothing but giant paintball arenas and there is less tension than there is neck on Randy Couture.

Even the ultimate finale of the film—a standoff between Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson atop a skyscraper—has about as good of computer-generated imagery as a poor episode of “NCIS” and worse fight choreography than “August: Osage County.”

I understand people keep making movies like this because they make money, and that is a movie executive’s endgame in Hollywood. But it hurts when so little care is put forward in production.

I think of “The Expendables 3” and movies like it (the “Transformers” series, “Indiana Jones,” “The Bourne Legacy”) as the cable network of movies. Distributors know you’re going to spend to see them, so who cares how good the story is? I know the tens of thousands of action movie enthusiasts going to see “The Expendables 3” won’t care.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

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