Expend4bles, the fourth instalment of the action franchise headlined by Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, is in one word: unnecess4ry.
Directed by Scott Waugh, the film doesn’t even try to be entertaining, let alone make any sense. There was a sense of nostalgia, if nothing else, in the past entries of the franchise where we got to see our action heroes of old in action again doing the old action tropes. But Expend4bles has retired all but one of them. Sly Stallone’s Barney Ross is still along for the ride but even his role is more of an extended cameo than the lead.
The lead here is taken by Statham’s Lee Christmas, which, okay, isn’t technically a bad thing. I mean who doesn’t want to see the Stath punch an annoying social media influencer? But the best part about his turn in the film happens to be his banter (not really funny) with Stallone, who disappears for most of the film, and with him so does the chance of Expend4bles becoming a watchable buddy-cop fun action film.
Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture reprise their roles as Expendables Gunner Jensen and Toll Road, and are joined by newcomers Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson as Easy Day, Jacob Scipio as Galan, son of Antonio Banderas’s Galgo, Levy Tran as Lash and Megan Fox as Gina, the token female presence, who doesn’t even deserve a surname. Their handler is Andy Garcia’s toothpick-chewing CIA boss Marsh.
The plot, whatever there is of it, involves securing, you guessed it, nuclear detonators (thanks to J. Robert Oppenheimer for all the recent action movie MacGuffins) that are being targeted by arms dealer Suarto Rahmat (a waste of Iko Uwais). The first mission, the location of which is Colonel Gaddafi’s chemical plant in Libya, goes south and tragedy strikes but the team is given another chance to make things right by nixing a nuclear war between the US and Russia.
That’s when the film finally finds a few moments of inspiration, even though most of the team stands around waiting to be rescued with the Stath doing all the maiming and killing.
One of the best things about the movie, apart from one Statham-led machine gun-mounted motorcycle jousting in the drawn out climax, is Tony Jaa’s Decha, a former Expendable who has turned away from the violent life. Unfortunately he is only part of the finale but at least he makes it watchable.
The CGI is terrible, the jokes fall flat and often border on the offensive, you can see the surprises coming from miles away and there is zero chemistry between the actors. Expend4bles makes the Fast and Furious films seem like works of fine art.
If Expendables 2 was the best of the franchise, Expend4bles is definitely the worst. Maybe it is time to retire the whole team for good and leave us with fond memories of the fun the Expendables series used to be.