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Review: Banderas renders rest of the guys more 'Expendable' than ever

Mel Gibson in a scene from 'The Expendables 3'

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‘The Expendables 3'

★★ (out of four)


Wide release

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By Roger Moore
Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Antonio Banderas pretty much steals “The Expendables 3.” But at this stage in that winded franchise, that amounts to petty larceny.

Adding the chatty, animated and action-friendly Banderas and Wesley Snipes as new “Expendables,” and Mel Gibson as an arms-dealing villain, amounts to a significant trade-up from the likes of Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris, mercifully missing in action.

Banderas is hilarious, mainly in the third act, and Snipes is welcomed with a decent action opening. He plays a guy the gang breaks out of some former Soviet prison. His offense? “Tax evasion!”

Harrison Ford lets only a hint of embarrassment sneak into his turn as the new guy who gives the team of C.I.A.-hired mercenaries their missions.

But it's when the film deviates from the “bunch of has-beens trying to be hard” formula that “Expendables” is most disposable.

After one of their number takes a bullet, Barney (Sylvester Stallone) lays them off and rounds up younger recruits — played by Kellan Lutz, mixed-martial arts star Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell — to go catch the murderous arms dealer (Gibson) that Barney thought he'd killed years ago.

The recruiting-the-new-team bit is dull and jokey. But Banderas, as a Spanish chatterbox named Galgo, is the wildcard, a man hungry for a mission. Every scene, every “Puss-n-Boots” line, the guy kills. Even when he's killing, and there's a lot of that, because this movie has the highest body count this side of “World War Z.”

It's obvious that the stunt men are doing most of the heavy lifting here. The one person truly at home in her fights is Rousey, and she's too green to be anything other than a stiff as an actress.

Gibson, tanned and twisted, dives into the bad-guy trash talk. “I'll open up your meat-shirt” and do something “with your heart,” he hisses. We buy it.

But we also buy what Trench, the Arnold Schwarzenegger middle-man character says, midway through the picture.

“Hurry up. It's boring.”

Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy News Service.

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