It’s been nine long years since The Expendables 3 received such a lukewarm response the franchise went on a long hiatus. There were plenty of rumors over the years but the franchise seemed very much dead. Sylvester Stallone, the writer/director/star at the center of the first movie, wasn’t getting any younger also. But you just can’t keep a good franchise down, especially with one John Wick raking up large amounts of dough at the box office. So now we have gotten an Expend4bles.
First things first: the movie is indeed called Expend4bles. Not The Expandables 4, just Expend4bles. It seemed like a bit of creative fun with the title design like 2015’s much ridiculed Fant4stic, but that movie was still just called Fantastic Four. But the Expend4bles spelling is in every marketing outing and used on sites like IMDB and TMDB.
In Expend4bles a bad guy (Iko Uwais) gets his hands on a nuke and plans to trigger world war three. It’s up to Barney Ross and his group of Expendables to stop him. That’s basically all there is to Expend4bles and it’s enough for 90 minutes of explosions, gun and fist fights.
But that’s not enough to make a good movie. Sadly, Expend4bles is a big letdown. Somehow they managed to fail on every level. Which is kind of a feat considering this is a $100m studio movie.
The Expendables was always about the names on the poster. All your dad’s favorite action stars together in one movie together with some fresh talent. For the first time you had Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger all in one scene. Jason Statham was fighting Scott Adkins. There’s Chuck Norris and here’s Jean-Claude van Damme. It worked like a charm.
Expend4bles’ roster is probably the weakest of them all. Megan Fox, Andy Garcia and 50 Cent are not synonymous with action movies. Tony Jaa and Iko Kuwais are to me the most interesting names, but have failed to impress me these past few years. While Jaa receives a few moments to shine, Kuwais is wasted in a couple of scenes. Even his final one of one with Statham lacks a punch. Pun intended.
Megan Fox gets to play pretend action star and has a few fighting scenes. Or her stunt double does. Most notably one with Statham which functions as foreplay. Together with Stallone, Couture and Lundgren he’s part of the returning cast. A cast that also gotten ten years older and it shows. Lundgren, once hulking man, is now relegated to the sidelines with a terrible wig and prescription glasses. Stallone, is in his mid-70s and only shows up in the first 15 minutes of the movie. He gets to drive a motorcycle and fly a plane. His stunt double gets to throw someone over the bar during a bar fight. It’s kind of pathetic really.
Some of the action scenes are over the top, as they should be. Statham manages to turn a ship around in an impressive manner. He also has a motorcycle chase scene on a freight ship which is exactly a goofy as it sounds. Most of the other stuff is mostly just the same old stuff you’ve seen in countless other movies.
The acting is also pretty hokey, especially during the early scenes with Statham, Fox and Stallone. Then again there is just so much you can do as an actor with the wooden dialogue put on paper. The obvious use of green screen doesn’t help either. I’m also wondering what they did to Megan Fox’s face in these same scenes. It’s as if they polished her skin.
As with all of today’s action movies, they try to inject a little extra something to give it some dimension. In this case its the existence of an unknown bad guy who goes by the name of Ocelot. He was responsible for killing some of Barney’s former team members and he’s supposed to be the mastermind of everything that is going in this movie. His reveal is no surprise. Once you hear his name being dropped for the first time, you’ll probably guess right away who it is.
But the addition of Ocelot also creates some of the most mind boggling scenes in the movie. As his action make no sense at all.
Expend4bles also makes the main characters look like a bunch of dicks. The bar fight at the beginning of the movie being a prime example.
Stallone lost his ring fair and square in a thumb wrestling match, but he decides that he wants it back and enlists the help of Statham because his back hurts (seriously). At the bar Statham confronts the guy, mouths him off for no good reason and starts a fight with him and his friends while wearing brass knuckles. Stallone and Statham are the bad guys here.
It gets even worse.
Major spoiler alert!
At the end of the movie it’s revealed that Stallone used this guy to fake his own death. He puts him in the seat of a crashing plane and lets him burn to death. Remember, all this guy did was win from Stallone in a thumb wrestling contest. For that he gets beaten to a pulp by Statham and his brass knuckles and death in a fiery inferno. Pretty brutal.
Surprisingly though, Expend4bles is never boring. I never had the urge the look on my phone or at the time during the movie. Despite its many flaws it’s still a watchable movie. But it’s the Jaws: The Revenge of the Expendables franchise. There’s no denying that.