Expend4bles (2023)

Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” was a fun novelty. In 2010. It took all of the big action stars from the eighties, striking the pleasure spots of Gen Xers and got by on its gimmick–for a while. It began life as “The giants of action cinema! All here! All kicking ass!” right down to “Well, here are people that have been in a few action movies.” With the series only four movies in, “The Expendables” has cashed in all of its nostalgia points. It’s now ironically transformed from a loving eighties homage to the one of the numerous clumsy, stale, action vehicles that many eighties action stars resorted to headlining in the late nineties and early aughts. 

In Libya, arms dealer Suarto leads his army to a chemical plant to collect detonators, bringing them to his mysterious boss, who wants to start World War III with nuclear weapons. Hired by C.I.A. insider Marsh, The Expendables snap into action to prevent Suarto from collecting the devices. When a teammate is lost in combat, Christmas defies his orders, and is kicked off the team/ Marsh assembles the new line up of the Expendables, while Christmas travels to Thailand to scope out Suarto’s operation.

“Expend4bles” (Exp-four-dables? Exfaudables? Excuatrodables?) is the literal definition of trash cinema that will likely be omitted from future resumes from the cast. It’s not even good enough for background noise, when all is said and done. Everything about “Expend4bles” is lazy from beginning to end, it takes a flash in the pan that was the first film and rather than developing it, and expanding upon it, just repeats the same old beats ad nauseum. The characters haven’t changed, and they haven’t grown, but they do spend more time trying to cut through the obvious sexual tension between Christmas and Ross from the first film. Every one that isn’t recognizable is given nothing to do, and everyone that is remotely notable is absolutely nerfed in order to make new lead Jason Statham shine.

There’s Levy Tran! And Jacob Scipio! And 50 Cent! They’re kind of movie stars…? Carry overs Randy Couture and Dolph Lundgren become nothing but running jokes, all the while Megan Fox stumbles through her dialogue as always. Fox barely has any chemistry with anyone on the cast, and the director works overtime to create this electricity between Christmas and Fox’s character Gina. Forget the fact she’s old enough to be his daughter, but again, she’s there to cut the obvious tension between Christmas and Ross. I don’t know if Stallone was off doing his reality show or whatnot, but Ross is shockingly given nothing, is gone for about eighty percent of the movie, and then becomes a part of the cruelest twist in movie history.

The final scenes effectively transform Ross and Christmas in to sadistic murderers, but that’s okay, because they’re so damn charming. The worst crime is that they have both Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais on board, one of whom plays third banana to Statham and Stallone, while Uwais is built up as this invincible villain who is taken out after a forty five second hand to hand fight with Statham. While this series has never pretended to be anything but movie slop, it was at least a novelty. It’s mind boggling how awful “Expend4bles” is.

I’m stunned they think this whole concept is capable of more sequels considering the last “Expendables” movie was nine years ago. I don’t think even Stallone’s action clout could elicit a reason to fund yet another go around. Once you’ve resorted to casting Megan Fox as a credible action star, it’s time to wrap it up and call it a franchise.