Proving that sometimes it’s best to quit while you are ahead, “The Expendables 3” is a bloated entry in the popular action franchise that should signal the end of the Sylvester Stallone revival.
Stallone returns as Barney Ross, the head of a group of hired mercenaries who secretly work for the government.
When the group goes in to take down an arms dealer, they discover the man behind the deal is actually a face from the past – the man who helped start the expendables with Ross, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson).
Determined to take down Stonebanks, Ross hires a new set of expendables (including Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz). The plan doesn’t quite go as hoped, leading former members of the group (including Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes) to return for one final mission.
The first entry was like watching a famous band make one last tour about 20 years after they were big. This entry is watching that same band come out for a third encore, unaware that it is time to leave the stage.
“Expendables 3” confuses quantity with quality, throwing everyone from Harrison Ford and Kelsey Grammer to Arnold Schwarzenegger into the film in glorified cameos.
The addition of Gibson on paper feels like it should work, but he is never as fun on screen as he could have been – giving the film a dull villain who doesn’t stand out in a movie full of familiar faces.
The cast is overstuffed, but not as much as the action sequences – loud endless streams of gunfire that get rather repetitive over the film’s two-hour running time.
The ending hints at more films, perhaps even spin-offs, but I hope everyone involved realizes that this is no longer the campy fun it once was.
Also in theaters
A more low-key release this week, the quirky romantic comedy “What If” (C+), is predictable but nearly works because of its very charming leads.
Daniel Radcliffe continues to break away from his Harry Potter days playing Wallace, a medical school dropout who has been burned in relationships so many times that he no longer believes in love.
That changes when he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a bright animator Wallace is instantly attracted to but can’t pursue because she is in a long-term relationship.
The two do agree to strike up a friendship, which works at first before Wallace starts to wonder if maybe the two should be more than friends.
This is the kind of film where the audience knows from the beginning that the two characters should be together, but the script keeps throwing roadblocks in the way.
To Radcliffe and Kazan’s credits they are really good, bringing a charming chemistry that nearly saves the film.
Wallace’s friend Allan (Adam Driver) and his girlfriend (Jemima Rooper) also give “What If” an added boost, but Elan Mastai’s screenplay can’t overcome the traditional romantic comedy formulas.
The result is a film that has a bit of charm but leaves audiences wondering what if these actors could have gotten better material.
“What If” is rated PG-13 for sexual content, including references throughout, partial nudity and language and is now playing at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10.