Third time’s a charm for Sly

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

Sylvester Stal­lone con­tin­ues to do his best to as­sem­ble ev­ery old school ac­tion movie star un­der the sun in one testos­terone-fu­elled blockbuster in this fun ‘three­quel’.

Join­ing re­turn­ing hard men like Stal­lone, Ja­son Statham and Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger are ad­di­tions Har­ri­son Ford, Wes­ley Snipes, Mel Gib­son and An­to­nio Ban­deras.

Stal­lone’s Bar­ney Ross is forced to turn to new blood for a per­sonal bat­tle against Gib­son’s Con­rad Stonebanks, the Ex­pend­ables’ co­founder and no­to­ri­ous arms trader.

Af­ter Si­mon West’s un­for­giv­ably dull sec­ond en­try, Red Hill helmer Pa­trick Hughes proves a more effective re­place­ment for Sly Stal­lone in the direc­tor’s chair this time out by over­see­ing the se­ries’ best en­try yet.

As well as re­cruit­ing fresh bone crunch­ing bud­dies on cam­era, Stal­lone wel­comes Olym­pus Has Fallen hus­band and wife writ­ing duo Creighton Rothen­berger and Katrin Benedikt on board to join him on story du­ties.

The trio go down the Fast & Fu­ri­ous route by in­ject­ing the fran­chise with younger stars, bet­ter vil­lains and more pur­pose – and up­ping the ac­tion ante.

Big-a** weaponry and ex­plo­sions abound with this bunch of su­per­heroes with­out su­per pow­ers and while it’s still over-the-top, turn­the-brain-off carnage, Stal­lone and Co. make for much bet­ter com­pany in their third out­ing.

All of the ‘old new­bies’ add some­thing; Snipes a few laughs early doors (in­clud­ing a nice in-joke about his real-life trou­bles), Gib­son some de­li­cious evil-do­ing as the tril­ogy’s best bad guy, a pre-bro­ken leg Ford gruff of­fi­cial­dom and Ban­deras fre­netic en­ergy – the lat­ter like a real-life Puss in Boots with ADHD.

Stal­lone con­tin­ues to share a like able-enough bro­mance with Ja­son Statham’s lu­di­crously named Lee Christ­mas and eight­ies’ ac­tion fans will get a kick out of Sch­warzeneg­ger aping his Preda­tor role.

The new ‘young­sters’ fare less well. They’re all sad­dled with un­der­writ­ten char­ac­ters and only Kel­lan Lutz – not quite plumb­ing the depths of his turn in The Leg­end of Her­cules – and the se­ries’ first fe­male Ex­pend­able, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, are given much screen time.

With such a big cast it’s in­evitable some are side­lined (hello Jet Li!) and the writ­ing team still throw in the odd re­ally dodgy one-liner (“I am The Hague”).

But they de­serve credit for mak­ing the Ex­pend­ables less in­vin­ci­ble – hos­pi­tal wait­ing room vig­ils, old age catch­ing up with them – and pep­per­ing the film with what fans re­ally came to see; spec­tac­u­lar set pieces.

A pris­oner escape with a souped-up train kicks things off, a Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble-style sur­veil­lance and tech­heavy kid­nap­ping utilises brain over brawn and the tower block cli­max is like a mini-Raid with ex­tra tanks.

Plan­ning for the future it may be, but The Ex­pend­ables 3 proves there’s plenty of life in the old dogs yet.

Ready to roll The mus­cle-bound gang join forces

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