THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Patrick Hughes). 126 minutes. Opens Friday (August 15). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The Expendables 3 is the same mediocre actioner as Expendables 1 and 2, with a few fresh faces and without the jokes.
Mel Gibson plays a billionaire arms dealer whom Sylvester Stallone and his little band of mercenaries are out to bring down. Gibson's relaxed, not-quite-comic turn steals the show from the weary macho posturing of our hero Stallone, buddy Jason Statham and most of the rest of the cast. Kelsey Grammer, a middleman, and Antonio Banderas, a motormouth, also help to relieve the overall dour tone.
But the real star is the action. It's well done and non-stop for the first 25 minutes, beginning with a spectacular train sequence with Wesley Snipes that provides the movie's only real surprise, followed by a waterfront raid that features some sharp freerunning.
But the proceedings sag in the long, dull middle while Stallone gathers some new recruits and don't pick up again until the last half-hour, when the team takes on an entire army complete with tanks and attack helicopters.
The set-up for this is preposterously out of place, and too much of the action is typical run-and-gun, but there are enough good stunts and big explosions to keep the fans watching.