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'The Expendables 3' review: Dependably brainless

Sylvester Stallone, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a scene

Sylvester Stallone, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a scene from "Expendables 3," Stallone's latest film. Credit: AP / Phil Bray

"I'm getting out of this business and so should you," Arnold Schwarzenegger tells Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables 3."

Yet here they are, once again playing grizzled mercenaries with enormous guns in the third installment of this moneymaking action franchise.

These guys aren't leaving anytime soon.

As for the rest of the cast, things look dicier. Terry Crews, as Hale Caesar, exits the action early, just before team leader Barney Ross (Stallone) fires his whole gang: Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture).

Even Doc, a new addition played by an enjoyably campy Wesley Snipes, is dismissed.

The reason: Barney's next mission is a "one-way ticket," too dangerous for his cherished friends.

Somewhat callously, Barney -- or rather, this franchise -- recruits four fresh bodies played by two actors (Kellan Lutz, of "Twilight," and Glen Powell), the boxer Victor Ortiz and MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, who executes some impressive moves in a tight dress and heels (look out, Gina Carano).

By and large, though, the youngsters are underused and lack the charisma of the older actors.

Between bouts of gunfire and bone-breaking, other stars show up, including Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas (egregiously miscast as an acrobatic chatterbox named Galgo) and Harrison Ford as a government bureaucrat named Drummer.

The film's best addition, though, is Mel Gibson as the villainous arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks. It's a tired old role, but Gibson, eyes a-twinkle, chews it up like rare steak.

To its credit, this "Expendables" doesn't feel reined in by its PG-13 rating (the previous two were rated R).

The action isn't any more realistic, exactly, but director Patrick Hughes keeps things visually interesting with acrobatics, motorcycles, tanks and explosions. After the dust clears, it's tequila shots and tattoos for everyone, which means "The Expendables 4" is on its way.

PLOT Aging mercenary Barney Ross recruits some new blood to take down a weapons dealer.

RATING PG-13 (violence, language)

CAST Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Kellan Lutz, Mel Gibson


BOTTOM LINE A slightly breezier and dependably brainless installment of Stallone's action franchise.



Terry Crews returns to "The Expendables" for the action series' third installment, which pits Sylvester Stallone's action heroes -- including Crews' Hale Caesar -- against an arms trader (Mel Gibson). amNewYork spoke with Crews about the film, opening Friday.

What keeps bringing you back to Caesar?

The name is probably one of the best names of any character in movie history. And also, I just think there's no one else like him. He's the spirit, energy and life of the group.

Wesley Snipes is in this film. He was supposed to be in the first one, right?

The reason I'm in it is because Wesley Snipes was not able to be in the first one with the things he was going through. . . . Now everything seems to come full circle. When I first saw Wesley on the set, I told him, "Now everything is right with the world because you were always supposed to be here."

You've done action and comedy -- what's next?

I want to do a musical. I'm definitely seeing a musical in my future. Something really cool.

Will there be another "Expendables"?

Let's keep this going. The trailer says "One last ride." Not for me! We can spin off.

-- Scott Rosenberg

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