Director: Scott Waugh
Cast: Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Iwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Andy Garcia, Sylvester Stallone
Runtime: 1 hr 43 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence and Gore)
Released By: Warner Bros
Opening Day: 21 September 2023
Synopsis: A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in THE EXPENDABLES 4. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Iwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.
More than a decade ago, Sylvester Stallone stars, co-wrote and direct an ensemble action movie called The Expendables with a focus on old-school action sets and a cast of action stars including Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger cameoing. It did well enough for Lionsgate and went on to release two more sequels with the likes of Van Damme, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson and even Harrison Ford chipping in for some fun.
It has been nine long years since the release of the last Expendables and Sly is back with his rotating members of mercenaries. While Statham, Lundgren and demolition expert, Toll (Randy Couture) are still hanging around, 50 Cents, Megan Fox, Andy Garcia and Tony Jaa are the new members with Iko Uwais as the main antagonist.
Since the movie needs at least a paper thin plot before we see our mercenaries in action, the story has it that the Expendables has been assigned on a mission to go to an old chemical plant in Libya to intercept Suharato Rahmat (Uwais), a former arms dealer who is out to steal nuclear missile detonators for his wicked client, Ocelot.
The movie more or less plays out similarly to the past Expendables outings despite having several different writers serving on the franchise. Co-writing every of the earlier ones, Sly decides to sit out on this one. Not sensing an ounce of good vibe, Kurt Wimmer (writer of the Point Break and Total Recall remakes) and another two guys took over the assignment and turns in a story that sounds it’s churned out by an A.I. in minutes. Of course, diehard fans of the Expendables are here for the action and the filmmakers deliver exactly what they wished for.
Under the helm of Scott Waugh (who directed Need for Speed and the recent Jackie Chan’s Hidden Strike), Expend4ables attempts to pass the baton to the next generation with the inclusion of Fox as Statham’s Lee Christmas’ love interest with a limp romance angle and playful bantering that is embarrassingly corny. To be fair, it’s much more enjoyable watching Ross and Lee teasing each other and making jab at Gunner (Lundgren).
Nevertheless, Waugh soldiers on to deliver a relentless, testosterone-fuelled action outing with countless gunshots and CGI enhanced violence all over. Taking place almost entirely on a gigantic cargo ship for the second half of the actioner, Alan Ng, a regular member of Jackie Chan’s Stuntman team is in charge of choreographing the fights although there’s zero fight sequences here that are worth a look. You might as well check out Iko Uwais in The Raid again or the underutilized Tony Jaa in his classic Ong Bak outings. You know all these Hollywood’s hyper-stylised, choppy edits, frenetic cinematography don’t really sell to Asian audiences who grew up on those hardcore HK/Asians action flicks.
Still, Sly has been hinting he is retiring his Barney Ross character and Statham looks set to take over as team leader consider he is featured heavily in the finale. Sorry to say, Fox and 50 Cents aren’t exactly box-office big-name actors so Statham might have a tough job ahead. Supposedly carrying a $100 million budget, Expend4ables at best is nothing but an overly expensive direct-to-streamer action movie with expired plotting and cheap cartoony violence. For our part, we are moving on with or without Sly.
(Expend4ables does nothing to lift the franchise out of its doldrums in fact it’s probably a nail in the coffin)
Review by Linus Tee