We should preface this review by saying that this writer has really enjoyed all the previous Expendables films and was excited at the prospect of more to come. Look, we can all agree, this stuff has never been in danger of having its scripts dissected in English Literature classes but seeing these impressive casts of action legends back in action, and together, has yielded many throwback joys and knuckle crunching fun. So, what could go wrong in seeing more legends back in action again…well, a lot as it happens.
This fourth outing sees the mercenary team, The Expendables, go on another mission, as they may be the world’s last line of defence in the face of nuclear threat, as a presence from Barney’s (Sylvester Stallone) past wreaks havoc, and one mission gone wrong changes the course of the team forever.
Expend4bles is not good as an action movie but as an addition to The Expendables series is so dispiriting. This new film has the overwhelming feeling of a straight to video/dvd/streaming sequel through the ages. The warning signs should have been evident with the initial confusingly lacklustre cast announcement, certain people’s exits and/or displeasure with the script, and then the iffy trailer, but even so a $100 million action franchise film should not be in such bad shape.
The effects resemble 20-year-old video game cutscenes, the visuals overall often reflect those low-res Facebook clips of a movie you’ve never heard of inexplicably shared on your feed, and the story is so misguided we cannot believe anyone did not call for a complete rethink early on.
Jaa and Uwais are wasted, while Lundgren, Statham and Couture are left to try and save the show (and give it a damn good shot), while Stallone is preposterously relegated to backdrop. The casting is also so weird and ill fitting at best, and bloody stupid at worst, with by far the worst roll call one of these movies has ever had, as the action itself is equally tame by the series’ dream match like standards and even more so compared to other recent action cinema. However, and perhaps worst of all, this just does not feel like an Expendables film.
There are some things here that remind you of one but everyone seemingly focused on added CG blood and swearing to please people who felt the last one was grisly enough, and that is not enough to justify a movie that is ultimately a bootleg Expendables flick, and yet one that apparently cost more than any other instalment. What the hell gives?
This is the barebones of the series, left to try and scramble a whole sequel together. Expend4bles betrays so much of the series’ comforts and pleasures, and the roster of action heavyweights (and their characters) that delivered them, that it was really a project not worth doing in the end. Especially if this was always destined to be the face palming chosen route.
“They’ll die when they’re dead” read the posters. Yes, it is indeed, a franchise killer folks, and that pains this writer to type.
Expend4ables is showing now in cinemas