The Expendables 3 (2014)

(On Cable TV, June 2015)  Given my less-than-favorable reactions to the first two films of The Expendables series, I’m not overly surprised to find out that the third installment isn’t any better.  It’s different in that the directing duties are handled in an unexceptional fashion by Patrick Hughes, that it thankfully abandons the R-rated CGI gore for a PG-13 rating that doesn’t change much and that it features even more veteran actors in small roles.  Harrison Ford and Kelsey Grammer both seem to have fun, but Mel Gibson steals the spotlight as the film’s antagonist –although it would have been more impressive had he not done almost exactly the same villain shtick in an even more grandiose fashion in Machete Kills.  Sylvester Stallone is his usual smarmy self-indulgent self in the lead role, although he has the decency to play father-figure rather than romantic partner to women thirty years younger.  There are plenty of meta-textual winks and nods (Wesley Snipes’ “tax evasion”, “out of the picture”, etc.), which is fortunate given how the only thing The Expendables series has going for it is the constant fan-service.  The plot is dull, the action sequences are average (none more so than the final exasperating hand-to-hand showdown) and the actors are usually past their prime.  There will be a sequel, but I don’t expect it to be any better either.

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