Titles don't get more ironic than The Expendables 3. The franchise claims to be about death-seeking mercenaries yet stars '80s action heroes, who refuse to die. Three films in, everyone in the sprawling team is still alive and ass kicking, save for Bruce Willis, whose million-dollar-a-day asking salary has caused his replacement Harrison Ford to sniff that Willis' character is "out of the picture." And if the posters weren't crowded enough, here Expendables leader Barney (Sylvester Stallone) discovers that two -- two! -- of his long-lost founding members are also roaming the earth and eager to resurrect their careers. The Expendables have formed and reformed so many times they're like the action version of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
Where has never-before-mentioned Expendable Doc (Wesley Snipes) been? Eight years in a Third World prison for "tax evasion," he jokes. Then Snipes enjoys 10 minutes of screen time before the film forgets he's even there. As for ex-Expendable Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), after his former friends shot him three times in the chest -- justifiably -- he dove underground and became the world's biggest arms dealer. Finally confronting his old band of brutes during a Somalian raid, Stonebanks grabs a rifle and shoots Caesar (Terry Crews) in the ass. "Now you're The Deleteables," he sneers. Director Patrick Hughes doesn't ask his cast to push themselves. Like a permissive painting teacher, he's simply providing the canvas and trusting them to do the rest on their own. The lazy, like Ford, flop. Gibson, though, is actually acting, and seems to get what this franchise is for: giddy redemption.