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It’s a little strange seeing Sylvester Stallone’s name under the screenwriting credits at the end of “The Expendables 3.” Here is a guy who broke into Hollywood by penning “Rocky” and then refusing to sell the script unless he got to play the lead role. In short, the man can write.
Of course, if there’s anyone qualified to spearhead the effort to keep Reagan-era big screen machismo alive, it’s Stallone. Your typical ’80s action hero wasn’t interested in a lot more than mowing down lots of bad guys and dropping bad one-liners, and Stallone was among the best at that particular job.
So now, with “Expendables 3,” we get a lot of ex-action heroes mowing down lots of bad guys and dropping lots of bad one-liners, to an almost gratuitous degree. The plot is simple, and the acting is functional. This is nowhere near a “good” movie.
But it’s still kind of fun.
Following in the tradition of the first two films in the series (albeit with a downgraded PG-13 level of violence and mayhem), “Expendables 3” follows the exploits of a group of past-their-prime roughnecks who do all the dirty jobs no one else in the world of secret ops wants. Stallone plays Barney Ross, the de facto leader, the film’s protagonist, and the guy who gets the most ponderous closeup shots.
Early on, the depleted group (Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren are still around, but series vets like Chuck Norris aren’t) rescues Doc (Wesley Snipes) from an eight-year stint in prison, which hasn’t seemed to dull his action hero skills in the slightest. But even his formidable skill set can’t fix a mission that goes bad when Barney and crew discover they’re up against one of their own, Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former Expendable turned bad.
When Barney’s CIA contact Drummer (Harrison Ford, replacing Bruce Willis, who apparently asked for too much money) gives him another shot at Stonebanks, Barney decides to fire his old team, fearing they’re finally too old to do the job. Instead, he recruits a young band of hot shots for the mission, and, well, let’s just say the rest of the gang is back in action by the third act.
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