Newspaper that inspires change. Breaking stories that shake the world. Be informed, Don't Settle for Fake News.

feat shape 1
feat shape 2
feat shape 3

Expendables 4 Review: Weakest Movie in Franchise

Sylvester Stallone returns for "Expendables 4," but the film fails to impress with weak characterization, underused actors, and poor direction.

Sylvester Stallone has undoubtedly become synonymous with numerous iconic franchises over the course of several decades. While the Expendables movies have always played second fiddle to the likes of Rocky and Rambo, they have managed to outshine certain films such as Escape Plan. Initially, the series began with two gritty, old-school action movies that embraced their hard-R rating. However, the decision to make The Expendables 3 PG-13 in order to attract a younger audience ultimately backfired, resulting in the worst box office performance in the franchise's history.

Now, nearly ten years after the lackluster release of the third installment, we are presented with Expendables 4, or as it is cleverly marketed, Expend4bles (a naming choice reminiscent of Scre4m and Fant4stic). Unfortunately, none of the Expendables movies have ever truly impressed, and the latest addition only further highlights that returning to the franchise's R-rated roots does not guarantee success. One would think we would have learned this lesson from A Good Day to Die Hard. Expendables 4 is a mind-numbing, disappointing entry that stands no chance of being one of the better installments in a franchise that is undeniably past its prime, much like its aging heroes.

While Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Barney Ross, the torch is passed to Jason Statham, who not only stars as the protagonist but also serves as a producer for this action-packed franchise. This marks Statham's fourth film of the year, following Operation Fortune, Fast X, and Meg 2: The Trench. He has certainly been busy, but it is worth noting that he has essentially been playing the same character for decades. Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture are the only other remaining stars from the original cast, as the famous faces of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Chuck Norris, Wesley Snipes, Terry Crews, and Jet Li all have their reasons for not returning. This creates a significant void within the franchise, and unfortunately, Expendables 4 fails to adequately fill it.

The latest addition to the Expendables series introduces new faces such as 50 Cent, Megan Fox, and Levy Tran. However, none of these actors possess the same cinematic legacy or charisma as their predecessors. Jacob Scipio portrays the son of Galgo, a character played by Antonio Banderas in the third movie. The absence of Banderas in Expendables 4 suggests that he chose not to return. In his place, Scipio attempts to mimic Banderas's motormouth persona, but none of the new characters are particularly engaging. While the Expendables movies are not known for their deep characterization, these characters simply lack the charm and appeal that make them enjoyable to watch. Tony Jaa's inclusion in the series is a welcome one, as he truly belongs in this type of franchise. However, he is burdened with cringeworthy dialogue that does not do justice to his talents. Ultimately, these characters are as captivating as plastic action figures.

One would hope that at the very least, Expendables 4 would deliver a compelling villain. Previous films in the series featured notable actors such as Eric Roberts, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Mel Gibson in this role. However, this time around, the villain is portrayed by Iko Uwais. On paper, Uwais seems like a fantastic choice, given his incredible martial arts skills showcased in films like The Raid series, Headshot, and The Night Comes For Us. Unfortunately, Hollywood continues to underutilize him, as seen in movies like Mile 22, Stuber, and Snake Eyes. Expendables 4 is yet another missed opportunity to showcase his talents. It is disheartening to witness one of the most skilled fighters in modern martial arts cinema receive minimal fight scenes, with the majority of them occurring only in the final act.

Moreover, the fight scenes themselves are underwhelming. Directed by Scott Waugh, who has not previously helmed a well-received action movie, Expendables 4 falls short in terms of its action sequences. While Waugh is not the worst action director in Hollywood, his fight scenes fail to reach their full potential. The framing and shot choices are merely acceptable, which is disappointing when considering the caliber of action directors like David Leitch, Christopher McQuarrie, and Sam Hargrave in the industry. The film does offer occasional moments of fun, particularly during the final set piece. However, it falls into the category of movies that provide temporary enjoyment but are ultimately forgettable once the credits roll.

Given its hard-R rating, Expendables 4 does reintroduce the blood splatters that were present in the first two movies. However, the violence never feels particularly brutal or impactful. The lack of compelling characterization further hampers the film, as Iko Uwais's character is reduced to a disposable villain. While his fighting skills could have posed a genuine threat, the opening sequence, which was meant to introduce audiences to his abilities, fades out before it truly begins. Another scene in which his character threatens to harm a child could have been emotionally charged, but the child's performance is subpar. Despite witnessing his mother's death, his father being tied up, and having a gun pointed at him, the child fails to convey fear, instead appearing like a lifeless mannequin.

Unfortunately, the acting from the adult cast members does not fare much better. Jason Statham essentially plays the same character he always does, which comes as no surprise to those familiar with his previous films. Surprisingly, both 50 Cent and Tony Jaa deliver lackluster performances in Expendables 4. Megan Fox's role seems to rely solely on her sex appeal, offering little in terms of substantial characterization. Andy García's portrayal is over-the-top, and his character's dialogue often elicits unintentional laughter. The predictable and underdeveloped screenplay, coupled with eye-rolling dialogue, further detracts from the overall experience.

Lastly, the heavy reliance on green screen technology in Expendables 4 is glaringly obvious and unattractive. Several shots, even those featured in the trailers, clearly reveal that the characters are positioned in front of artificial backgrounds. Additionally, an early scene that should have been emotionally impactful falls flat due to both the screenplay and direction. The film lacks the novelty of seeing '80s and '90s action heroes like Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Ford embracing their iconic personas. Instead, Stallone's appearance feels more like a glorified cameo, Statham's character beats up a misogynistic social media influencer, and 50 Cent's role is reduced to delivering forgettable lines.

In conclusion, The Expendables 4 is an empty, purposeless film that should have remained missing in action. It fails to deliver a compelling story, engaging characters, or well-executed action sequences. With significant issues plaguing every aspect of the movie, it becomes a chore to endure rather than an enjoyable cinematic experience. As per ComingSoon's review policy, this film would receive a score of 3, indicating its classification as "Bad."

Share With Others

Comments on Expendables 4 Review: Weakest Movie in Franchise