Striking a tone somewhere between the po-faced original and the silly Part 2, this rampaging action nonsense is badly overcrowded and chaotic, but there's plenty of comedy and whizzy stuntwork to keep the audience entertained. It of course helps a lot that the film is packed to the rafters with iconic actors and lively newcomers. And their sassy dialogue helps make up for the idiotic plot.
It opens with a prison break, as Barney (Sylvester Stallone) and his team (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews) rescue their old cohort Doc (Wesley Snipes) then head off on a mysterious mission that turns out to involve their presumed-dead nemesis Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who is targeting Barney's team. So Barney and his pal Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) set about finding four new commandoes (Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell and Victor Ortiz) to take on Stonebanks, but of course nothing goes as plan. For the final face-off they're joined by the old team, CIA boss Drummer (Harrison Ford), former colleagues Trench and Yin (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li), and chatty newcomer Galgo (Antonio Banderas).
The ever-increasing cast means that some characters can't help but be pushed into the shadows (Crews and Li are barely in this film), while others hover around the edges of scenes injecting moments of sarcastic wit. Each of the characters gets his or her moment of eye-popping action, as the film lurches from set-piece to set-piece in a whirl of bombs, bullets and blades. All of this is fun because the actors are gleefully refusing to take any of this seriously. The scene-stealers this time are Gibson, terrific as the swaggering villain, and Banderas, who's hilarious as the only person who can string a sentence together.
The film's simplistic morality dictates that none of the Expendables will meet their maker; instead, anyone who dares to confront them must die, which in this case means hundreds of faceless soldiers whose violent deaths are treated as meaningless (and edited cynically to get a PG-13/12A rating that lets kids watch). But the action is so nonstop that it doesn't allow much time to think about these things, or to ponder the gaping holes in the plot. No, this is a movie that asks its audience to sit back and enjoy the carnage, gasp the insane stunts and admire the clunky digital effects that allow the ageing cast to indulge in so much physical mayhem. Not to mention the plastic surgery that almost makes them look like they belong in the middle of the fray instead of at home playing with their grandkids.
Run time: 126 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th August 2014
Box Office USA: $39.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $204M
Distributed by: Lionsgate Pictures
Production compaines: Millennium Films, Nu Image / Millennium Films, Davis-Films, Nu Image Films, Ex3 Productions, Fipex Holding, LionsGate
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 102
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Patrick Hughes
Screenwriter: Sylvester Stallone, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Starring: Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, Terry Crews as Hale Caesar, Randy Couture as Toll Road, Antonio Banderas as Galgo, Jet Li as Yin Yang, Wesley Snipes as Doc, Dolph Lundgren as Gunnar Jensen, Glen Powell as Thorn, Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks, Harrison Ford as Max Drummer, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench, Kellan Lutz as John Smilee, Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte, Robert Davi as Vata, Ronda Rousey as Luna, Victor Ortiz as Mars, Velizar Binev as Art Broker, Sarai Givaty as Camilla
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