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'Expendables' out of prime

8/19/2014

What is there left to say about "The Expendables?" It's a franchise of few words to begin with. But after three installments, the novelty, among other things, is starting to wear a little thin. Sylvester Stallone and a cavalcade of other '80s and '90s action stars again team up to face off against a sinister threat that only can be met with a barrage of bullets and one-liners.

What is there left to say about "The Expendables?" It's a franchise of few words to begin with. But after three installments, the novelty, among other things, is starting to wear a little thin. Sylvester Stallone and a cavalcade of other '80s and '90s action stars again team up to face off against a sinister threat that only can be met with a barrage of bullets and one-liners.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good action movie, and the stars of "The Expendables" franchise are the action stars I grew up on. I gave "The Expendables 2" a score of 5 of 6 -- which it didn't deserve cinematically, but it was a nostalgic joyride for those who enjoy this particular brand of cinema. That said, "The Expendables 3" suffers from franchise depreciation and inflation. The "old-guy action movie" idea no longer is young; and where the first films were self-referential to the core concept of tropey/campy '80s action films, "Expendables 3" is more self-referential to its own franchise. It loses sight of the original idea by simply replicating the formula -- like making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy.

This outing, ironically, seemed to lack some punch. There certainly are no lack of punches to be had, but the "oh man, it's that guy" or "that's incredible that he can still do that" moments are lost among a wallowing story.

Furthermore, the film introduces a gaggle of youngsters to the lineup -- including two relatively unknown actors, a boxing champ and a female MMA fighter. The main reason people buy tickets to these films is to see Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger do what they do. I don't really need any young blood; in fact, it's a determinant. The reins will need to be passed eventually, but I'd rather wait 20 to 30 years and see the pantheon of actors from Marvel films reboot "The Expendables" than see further films staring a cast of actors that don't have the pedigree for this franchise.

3 of 6 stars

james.gerstner@gmail.com