The last two Expendables were about a bunch of over-the-hill mercenaries taking down a bad guy by blowing a lot of stuff up. So let’s be honest here: if you’ve seen the first two, you’ve pretty much seen this one. Some things are slightly different – much less Bruce Willis, much more Wesley Snipes and Harrison Ford – but it’s really more of the same slurred dialogue, bulging muscles, Eastern European locations and planes flying around … So many shots of people on planes.
The one thing that actually is different here is Mel Gibson as evil arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks. Gibson, unlike every single other human being in this film, can act. So his one big scene, where Stonebanks talks about how he started the Expendables with Barney Ross (Stallone) and how Ross’ morality is a joke because they’re mercenaries and mercenaries kill people for money which is pretty darn amoral if you think about it, is the one scene in this film that really works.
Meanwhile: explosions, which is what you’re here for. And the first couple of action sequences are pretty good. But then for some bizarre reason – well, presumably the reason is “you guys are getting too old for this” – Ross fires all the original Expendables (you know, the guys you came here to see) and replaces them with a bunch of young no-name guys who can use computers and in one case is also a woman. They’ve been handpicked by deadly killer expert Kelsey Grammer, so you know they’re good. Wait, no – I mean to say so you know the original old guys are going to come out of retirement to save everyone else’s arse while mumbling some stuff about “family”.
There are some laughs when Antonio Banderas turns up as a motor-mouth wannabe Expendable; there are less laughs when Arnold Schwarzenegger says “get to da choppa!” twice. The whole series of Expendables movies has been a parody of ’80s action excess – not exactly a genre that was played straight-faced the first time around – so it’s hard to complain about it being a collection of bad one-liners and unimaginative action. But at least those original films were trying not to be average; this wears it with pride.