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A fresh bunch of recruits joins Sylvester Stallone and his band of superannuated action heroes for another round of outlandish violence and self-mocking quips in The Expendables 3.

The newcomers cover a broad range – token woman (mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey), token Hispanic (Antonio Banderas), token African-American (Wesley Snipes), and even a token Twilight star (Kellan Lutz).

The old-school mayhem remains the same, of course, with our heroes opening accounts by merrily mowing down hundreds of vaguely Eastern European soldiers, who must count themselves unlucky to belong to the wrong demographic group.

Eventually a plot emerges from the carnage. Stallone’s Barney discovers that former friend turned foe Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), long presumed dead, is alive and kicking and dealing in arms. Determined to go after Stonebanks but unwilling to risk the lives of his ageing crew, Barney turns instead to a new set of mercenaries to accomplish the mission. Will his old comrades sit things out?

The film barely bothers trying to generate any suspense out of this, and the relentlessly routine action is equally predictable. Looking jowly and growly, Harrison Ford pops up to fly a helicopter. Arnold Schwarzenegger, returning as mercenary rival Cole Mauser, looks visibly uncomfortable. And Banderas provides unfunny comic relief as an absurdly chatty assassin. The only one who comes out of the film looking good is Gibson, who puts more sly menace into his villain than the part or the film deserves.

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Certificate 12A. Runtime 126 mins. Director Patrick Hughes.

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