If there was ever a film franchise that should have ended a long time ago, Sly Stallone’s The Expendables is that franchise. Nearly 10 years after the disastrous third film, the ‘boys’ are back in town for a fourth film with Expend4bles. In the words of the classic Beatles song ‘Let It Be,’ even playing that nostalgia card has passed its sell-by date.
Back in 2010, it was refreshingly intriguing to see a film bring back some of the action stars from the 1980s and 1990s: Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. Not to forget Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, and Mel Gibson. And this is before we even get to Jason Statham and Randy Couture. I could go on and on; Sylvester Stallone has a lot of buddies who all headlined the action genre at one time. The outcome played out like a Cannon film – retro, aggressive in style, an overall fun popcorn film, but not a masterpiece.
The second and third films couldn’t live up to the first, so why do we have a fourth film? That’s a good question. Ten years after the previous film, a lot has happened with directors and cast members coming and going. We even had the prospect of an all-female Expendables film. However, once again, the Expenda-belles idea ended as quickly as it started.
Directing this time is Scott Waugh, who delivers no confidence that we’ll ever see a decent film. He was the director of two of the worst films ever made, Act Of Valour and Need For Speed. It comes as no shock or surprise that Expend4bles is a regurgitated mess.
Despite Stallone returning as Barney Ross, Statham takes the reins as Lee Christmas for this one. The mission is to retrieve detonators for nuclear bombs and prevent them from falling into the hands of a very dangerous but mysterious client named Ocelot. He hires the arms dealer Rahmat (Iko Uwais) and his army to obtain the detonators, which happen to be located in one of Colonel Gaddafi’s old ammunition factories in Libya.
Without giving too much away, disaster strikes when Barney and the crew’s first attempt is botched, forcing them to regroup and await instructions from CIA Agent March (Andy Garcia). Christmas is kicked out, and his girlfriend Gina (Megan Fox) is now in charge. Lee, having none of it, decides to do his own thing and crosses paths with one of Barney’s old comrades, Decha (Tony Jaa). They all end up singing from the same hymn sheet, working together to retrieve the detonators and prevent World War III from kicking off.
If you go by the film’s official trailer, we have a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-type action rom-com thriller on the cards. How wrong that assumption is. What we get instead is an inept, turgid mess plagued by green screens and very cheap CGI. Kurt Wimmer is no stranger to bad scripting; he was behind “Ultraviolet.” He also gave us the underrated gem Equilibrium.
If you were hoping for a “leave your brain at the box office” popcorn flick, you’ll be severely disappointed. Expend4bles is cheap, nasty, lazily written, poorly acted, and embarrassing. This film should have been left on the shelves of Blockbusters, 30 years ago and forgotten about.
Action | USA, 2023 | 15 | Cinema | 22nd September 2023 | Lionsgate Films | Dir. Scott Waugh | Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Iko Uwais, Dolph Lundgren, Andy Garcia, Megan Fox, Levy Tran