Verdict: Sly's action comeback big, dumb but not enough fun.
The modest returns on his last Rambo flick - 2008 in case you missed it, but a better 80s throwback action flick than this - suggested to Sylvester Stallone, his next one couldn't be all about him.
Which is why he assembled his own Ocean's 11/Wild Bunch of 80s faces (Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke) and younger more agile blokes (Jason Statham, Jet Li) to help him win another phoney war.
Trouble is, all duly recruited and given their character missions - Lundgren as drug-crazed untrustworthy turncoat, Li as butt of all short guy jokes, Statham as knife-throwing loyal lieutenant - it's Sly that takes over the show.
Not only with his barely incomprehensible commands as mercenary squad leader Barney Ross, but with a directing style that drains the coherence and excitement out of the action. And which - for all its allegiance to old-school stuntwork - coats much of the mayhem in slow-motion digital blood.
Had a director with an eye for team dynamics and genre-revival (anyone spring to mind?), been on the other end of the bullhorn, this might have been a fine last hurrah for yesterday's men from Planet Hollywood.
True, the exchange between Stallone, Arnie and Willis is mildly amusing for its traded insults. But it's just one wink-wink encounter. Likewise, Rourke steals one of his few scenes with his old soldier's thoughts on war's effect on the soul. But if everyone gets a solo, this isn't the ensemble blast promised by the poster.
The story, such as it is, suggests some sort of Regan-era flashback. Sly's mob are paid by a US government spook to overthrow the dictator of a small South American country with a cocaine-based GDP. But the rogue former CIA guy (Eric Roberts, doing his slimy evil thing again) actually running the place is the bigger hazard. Meanwhile Sly falls for the willowy but rebellious dictator's daughter and grows a conscience, poor dude.
The big dumb fun starts with a prologue involving Somalian pirates (whose perfectly intelligible broken English gets subtitles, unlike Stallone's). But it soon falters, the film's funnybone the first one of many to get cracked.
There are further random outbreaks of big dumb fun. Like when one of the muscled squad actually throws an artillery shell at a helicopter. Hey, cool trick. Though being within throwing distance of an exploding artillery shell is, well, the reason they invented hand grenades. The stuff you learn, huh?
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Rating: R16 (graphic violence)
Running time: 104 mins