Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas, Randy Couture, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Kellan Lutz, Jet Li
What's it about: Barney Ross retires his ageing team (or at least what's left of it) after a mission goes all wrong. He finds himself pitted against a man he thought he had shot dead. When the man (Gibson), former Expendable and now, arms dealer wanted by the CIA, escapes under his watch, he is forced to recruit new blood to adapt to changing times.
What's hot: Having most of the action heroes you grew up admiring, featuring together in one film, has remained the USP of this franchise. It was that novelty factor, coupled with the addition of new names, fighting the odds, sometimes beating them, that gave them the edge all this while.
What's not: The trouble with that is, you can't keep this sort of thing forever. The stunts will seem repetitive, the action sequences more laboured, the faces more likely to melt off with the next big explosion and so on and so forth. What kept them going was the outrageous stunts, the wacky banter, the sight gags and the like. Even that is in short supply here. The first 15 minutes and the last 30 minutes will have the only worthwhile action sequences you'll see and even that sometimes feels like you're looking at a video game. Certain dialogues have been cut out to keep it a U/A film, but it could just as easily have been beeped or muted. Save for Kellan Lutz and Antonio Banderas, none of the new names make an impact. Mel Gibson's menacing, but you can't hate him as Stonebanks enough to want him as dead as the rest of the cast.
What to do: Three's definitely not a charm for this instalment. It's watchable, if almost barely, because of the biggest names here. And the sequel to this one is coming, last we heard. Like this franchise or not, it will happen. Maybe, this one (unfortunate leak and all) is just a slight bump in the road. Maybe, the next one will hit the bullseye, like Lee Christmas' aim. And maybe, just maybe, some of the oldest names will finally retire. At this rate, this franchise might soon become 'The Fighting Dead' or something....