When the first Expendables movie came out way back in 2010, the gimmick of bringing together iconic action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger into one film was exciting. The end result was far from excellent, but at least it was entertaining.
The only problem was, despite calling themselves the Expendables, Stallone and gang proved to be far from expendable. The franchise expanded instead with two more films – 2012's The Expendables 2, which while forgettable, at least had the saving grace of featuring both Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris; and The Expendables 3 in 2014, which had the likes of Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes to brag about.
You’d think the terrible reviews of Expendables 3 would have exterminated the franchise once and for all. Then nine years later, along comes Expend4bles, cringe worthy name and all.
13 years after the first movie, only four of the original crew are left – Stallone, Statham, Couture and Lundgren. This time around, the new cast members include Andy Garcia, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, and Levy Tran. As big a thrill it is to see Jaa and Uwais in there, this isn't exactly the who’s who of action stars we've come to expect from an Expendables movie, is it?
Anyway, the story this time around, in case you were remotely interested in knowing, sees Barney Ross (Stallone) leading his team to Libya, where arms dealer Rahmat (Uwais) is trying to steal some nuclear detonators for a mysterious terrorist named Ocelot. That’s all you really need to know, really, as what follows is a story that doesn’t even bother to make sense at all.
“But it’s an Expendables movie, it’s not supposed to make sense!” you say? Well, this one makes even less sense than usual, with a script that was probably ‘written’ by prompting ChatGPT to ‘write an Expendables script with lots of stupid and gross jokes’.
Jokes about bodily fluids, genitals, short people, old people, obnoxious social media influencers... you name it, they've got it (surprisingly, there are no fart jokes – did the screenwriters think that would lower their standards TOO much?).
Not even the action can redeem it either. There’s lots of guns, explosions, fighting and knife-throwing, but most of it is pretty unmemorable, with only one standout fight in the entire lot. In this age of fast-paced John Wick-styled non-stop action, Expend4bles' sequences seem antiquated in comparison. It's not even 'old-school', it's just... boring.
Heck, they don't even make an effort to introduce the characters or their specialty properly anymore, with every single member seemingly recruited because they know how to kill people efficiently.
At least the first three films had the novelty of having all those iconic action stars in one movie. This one doesn’t even have that. I’m not sure it’s even an Expendables movie anymore – more like a Statham movie that just happens to have some random action stars in it.
With Stallone already close to turning 80 (he's 77 this year, in case you were wondering), Lundgren and Couture in their 60s, and Statham the ‘young one’ at 56, the chances of another one in the franchise may seem remote. But that was what we said after Expendables 3 too. With that in mind, I guess we can expect to see The Expendable5 in cinemas in 2030. Woohoo!
Just exterminate them already.