Yet another installment in what has become the Royal Rumble of action movie franchises:
Like its franchise predecessors, "The Expendables 3" is a kind of dream team action film, built from the thrill of seeing a veritable army of top-shelf movie stars, each of whom could once carry their own pictures, all working together.
Almost the entirety of the 1980s and '90s action canon is on-screen: The movie features Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas and Dolph Lundgren. More recent stars Jet Li and Jason Statham show up, too, along with an equally large cast of lesser knowns pulled from the worlds of low-budget action and professional mixed martial arts.
It's a reunion show, basically, except these guys were never actually together in the first place. They were rivals, competing for box-office dollars and fan obsession.
Part of what "The Expendables" franchise reveals, then, is how much the power of any given individual action star has dimmed. Not only did the cast members shown here not appear together in their heydays, they would have refused the opportunity. (Mr. Stallone andMr. Schwarzenegger reportedly maintained a fierce rivalry for years.) To do so would have diluted their individual brands. Now they're all sharing the stage. Teaming up is the only way to remain potent.
As I say in the review The Expendables 3 isn't a great movie. But it's surprisingly OK. And it caps off one of the better summer movie seasons in recent memory: Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer, and Guardians of the Galaxy were all surprisingly strong films—the kind of movies I'll want to watch again, maybe even several times. Even a movie like Godzilla, which I thought didn't quite come together, worked in certain ways (it was beautifully, meticulously shot). Sadly, I doubt we'll see Hollywood attempt to repeat this summer: Box office is down more than 17 percent from last year.