Thursday, April 19, 2018

Time for some hip replacements

From the beginning, the Expendables franchise has been a way to give formerly popular action stars a chance to once again flex some muscle. The brainchild of Sylvester Stallone, the first movie in 2010 assembled Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and Jet Li, with cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A jaded moviegoer might look at that lineup and see a cast of has-beens desperately trying to stay relevant. But it worked to the tune of $274 million.

Naturally, sequels would follow, and the latest, The Expendables 3, is yet another chance to see so many vaguely familiar faces and say, "Oh yeah. I remember him." With the exception of Willis, all of those original players have returned. But we also get Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer. Oh, and Mel Gibson, who hasn't had the opportunity to do much in Hollywood since he made misogynistic and anti-Semitic comments after a DUI stop in 2006.

Given his past indiscretions, Gibson is especially believable as the movie's villain, Stonebanks, even as his dialogue is ridiculously over-the-top. His character was once part of the elite mercenary team known as the Expendables alongside Barney Ross (Stallone), but Stonebanks let greed get the best of him and has since become a weapons dealer with a mansion in Moscow and a cache of pricey artwork. He's also a war criminal, and CIA operative Drummer (Ford) wants the Expendables to capture Stonebanks and bring him to the Hague.

Given that this mission is what Barney calls a "one-way ticket," he lets go of his old cronies and assembles a team of young and fearless warriors played by, among others, Twilight's Kellan Lutz and real-life mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey. Lutz is hardly a standout thespian, but compared with Rousey he looks like he may one day win a Laurence Olivier Award.

Of course, the Expendables franchise isn't about spotlighting the power of youthful and virile action stars; it's about letting older guys prove they've still got it. So the amateurs get kidnapped and it's up to Stallone and the other oldies but goodies to rescue them.

The movie's action sequences are both thrilling and idiotic. One moment you might be holding your breath and the next you're laughing out loud because of how fake it looks when Agent Drummer does figure eights around a smokestack in a helicopter. The characters are, for the most part, invincible. Watching Barney throw punches, kick box, spray enemies with bullets and man an airplane, you might wonder whether there's anything this guy can't do. Well, there is one thing: Move his face. Stallone's remarkably smooth mug is frozen in a perma-pout that impedes every line delivery.

The movie's best moments come courtesy of Banderas, who plays an acrobatic and exhaustingly gregarious out-of-work mercenary desperate for another chance to do what he loves most, which is killing people. Banderas, who got big laughs at a recent screening for the subtlest of deadpan expressions, also reminds us of all an actor can accomplish when he has control of his facial muscles.

The latest in the Expendables franchise is also the longest, clocking in at a little over two hours. That's well beyond anyone's daily dietary requirement for machine gun fire and middling dialogue. Stallone should save some of his material for the inevitable fourth movie. After all, Steven Seagal and Kurt Russell need something to do.

Comments
Investment firms winning Florida pension business fund Rick Scott’s political committee

Investment firms winning Florida pension business fund Rick Scott’s political committee

From a new report by the highly regarded campaign finance watchdog group Maplight:…Scott, a Republican, began chairing the New Republican PAC in May 2017 and announced his former campaign manager would serve as its executive director. Soon afte...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Teen, 16, walks into path of motorcycle while crossing Ulmerton Road

Teen, 16, walks into path of motorcycle while crossing Ulmerton Road

PINELLAS PARK — A 16-year-old was injured Thursday morning after being struck by a motorcycle on Ulmerton Road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place at about 6 a.m. Austin Montgomery, 23, was riding his 2011 Suzuki motorcycle ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Wells Fargo said to be target of $1 billion fine

Wells Fargo said to be target of $1 billion fine

Federal regulators are poised to impose a $1 billion penalty on Wells Fargo for a number of alleged misdeeds, including forcing customers to buy auto insurance policies that they didn’t need, according to people briefed on the regulatory action. The ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Hernando County commissioner arrested on prostitution charges

Hernando County commissioner arrested on prostitution charges

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, 71, was arrested Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on multiple prostitution-related charges.Nicholson was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center on one count of opera...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

LARGO — Detectives are asking the public’s help in identifying a man who broke into a home and confronted the owners with a knife.According to Largo police, the man entered about 3:40 a.m. a townhouse at 7360 Ulmerton Road holding a large black knife...
Updated: 1 hour ago
GOP gubernatorial debate set for June 28 in Orlando

GOP gubernatorial debate set for June 28 in Orlando

The 2018 Republican candidates for governor of Florida will meet in a primary debate on June 28 in Orlando.The debate, which will begin at 6:30 p.m., is sponsored by Fox New Channel and the Republican Party of Florida, according to a statement from t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Retiring Tampa cop’s son pleads guilty to hazing in death of FSU student

Retiring Tampa cop’s son pleads guilty to hazing in death of FSU student

TAMPA — A Leon County judge sentenced the son of former Tampa Assistant Police Chief Marc Hamlin on Monday to 60 days in jail for a role in the November hazing death of a 20-year-old Florida State University student. Christopher Hamlin, 20, was one o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a broken ankle he sustained in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in jeopardy.General manager Jason Licht said Beckw...
Updated: 1 hour ago