'Expendables 3': Avoidable action

Posted: August 15, 2014

YOU HAVE TO admire the generosity of "Expendables" honcho Sylvester Stallone, hiring hard-to-employ tarnished stars like Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes.

In the first scene of "E3," Stallone's mercenaries stage a jail break to liberate Snipes, who gets to make a joke about tax evasion. Gibson is the movie's heavy, a back-from-the-dead character who is highly skilled but possibly deranged, so Mel is playing himself.

Stallone, though, is maybe too generous. He also makes room for Harrison Ford, who doesn't need the job or the money, and Kelsey Grammer. You get why Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham have jobs here, they fit the aging action star profile. But "Frasier?"

Anyway, by the time you add everybody up, and give everybody his or her (MMA star Ronda Rousey has a small part) scene - this is like "The Dirty Two Dozen" - Stallone's B-movie action lark has stretched to 126 minutes (the "Expandables") and worn out its welcome.

It all starts in Somalia, where Barney Ross (Stallone) and his veteran team have a bad go of it trying to stop an arms deal, involving a former adversary (Gibson) thought to be long dead. Ross loses a man, decides he's too old for this s---, tells his older guys to retire, and recruits some younger talent (Rousey, boxer Victor Ortiz, Kellan Lutz from the "Twilight" movies) for a mission of revenge.

Of course the whole gang gets in on the finale, where all Expendables fight a small army in what appears to be an abandoned Eastern bloc casino. Stallone pays homage to Steve McQueen and Jim Brown, personally reenacting the latter's ticking clock "Dirty Dozen" sprint ahead of deadly explosions.

But Stallone gets to live, of course, so that we can have an "Expendables 4," and full employment for action stars of any age, which beats Social Security.

Blog: philly.com/KeepItReel

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