The Expendables franchise, once known for its iconic ensemble of action stars, has returned with its fourth installment, aptly titled Expendables 4. However, the latest entry in this action-movie all-star series has failed to live up to the expectations set by its predecessors, offering a disappointing experience that leaves fans longing for the glory days of ’80s and ’90s action cinema.
From the opening scenes, it becomes evident that Expend4bles offers a weak plot, that involves a mission to thwart a terrorist organization smuggling nuclear warheads. There’s a little more to the story, but that’s more than enough to know going in. Nobody sees these movies for their intricate plotting, right? The once-charismatic crew led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) seems to have lost its spark, with lacklustre performances and a clumsy script that lacks the self-deprecating humour that made the earlier films enjoyable.
It’s been nearly a decade since The Expendables 3 hit theatres in 2014, and considering the lacklustre performance of that third installment at the box office, one might question whether there was any demand for a fourth Expendables film.
Despite the action genre reaching new heights with franchises like John Wick and Mission: Impossible, there’s still room for a violent, nostalgia-inducing action movie. For instance, Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction movies harken back to the one-man-army films of the ’80s and ’90s.
Titled Expend4bles on screen, the fourth entry in the series attempts to recapture the spirit of its predecessors, including the return of the R rating, which was conspicuously absent in the third film. The challenge lies in the fact that it takes until the final act to recapture the essence that made the original movies successful: a sense of enjoyment and fun.
One notable shift is Jason Statham taking the lead over Stallone, a surprising move that may leave fans wondering about the franchise’s direction. The supporting cast, including Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, and Andy Garcia, falls short of the shoot-’em-up titans featured in the previous films. Even the return of familiar faces like Dolph Lundgren’s Gunner Jensen is marred by uninspired character arcs and wasted potential.
Expend4bles further disappoints with its lacklustre production quality. The film’s visuals often appear cheap and inauthentic, with green-screened scenes and poorly executed special effects. The action sequences suffer from weak execution, making the intense combat scenes appear staged and unconvincing. The overall look and feel of the movie fails to capture the high-energy essence that fans have come to expect from the franchise.
The clunky and uninspired dialogue, delivered without conviction, adds another layer of disappointment. While previous entries embraced a tongue-in-cheek cheesiness, Expend4bles seems to miss the mark, leaving the actors looking almost embarrassed by their lines. The once-enjoyable banter and self-deprecating snark are notably absent.
Surprisingly, the film manages to redeem itself somewhat in its extended final act, set entirely on an aircraft carrier. The addition of Tony Jaa and a renewed focus on cheesy throwback fun inject some life into the movie. Statham’s character takes centre stage, delivering entertaining action sequences reminiscent of the franchise’s glory days. The final act, though not enough to salvage the entire film, provides a glimpse of the fun and violence that fans originally signed up for.:
Expendables 4 may have missed the mark for much of its runtime, but the final act offers a glimmer of hope. While it’s not enough to erase the overall disappointment, the film manages to elevate itself above the irredeemable third instalment. As the credits roll, viewers are left with a mix of adrenaline and nostalgia, wondering if The Expendables will indeed be back for another round.
Final Verdict: 2 stars (out of 5)