Before they became anything else, The Expendables films were just a series of names. Stallone. Statham. Li. Snipes. Schwarzenegger. Willis. These names are the reason why people go to these films. 2010’s The ConsumablesFans of VHS could now finally watch their heroes on screen. It didn’t particularly matter what kind of movie they appeared in together, as long as it promised some action.
It certainly helps that The Consumables was specifically an unabashed throwback to ’80s action movies, with director Sylvester Stallone delivering a testosterone-fueled joyride full of guns and elder muscles. It felt in 2010 like it would be the last time that a group of men who could sneer, fire machine guns and wore berets were going to take a ride.
The fourth movie in the franchise, this week’s Expend4bles, doesn’t traffic in this nostalgia. Three movies and 13 years later, there isn’t much more wish fulfillment for Expendables movies to offer. Its biggest casting coups, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wesley Snipes, aren’t in attendance this time out, and their poor implementation in prior installments means they wouldn’t have been a draw anyway. It’s no longer a surprise that the Expendables films had a single trick. Scott Waugh Has to do something else Expend4blesFinally trying to make one of these films into an action film.
If satisfying action was Waugh’s only real goal, then kudos to him for clearing that bar handily. Expend4blesIt is the best action film in the franchise thanks to Alan Ng’s efforts and those of Jackie Chan Stunt Team who had worked on Waugh’s previous movie. Hidden Strike. There’s a clear vision for Expend4bles’ This film is characterized by a Hong Kong style of cinematic violence. It brings some Hong Kong flare to a franchise known for huge guns and big haymakers.
The new action style brings new actors to the screen. Jason Statham (the Raid series), Sylvester Stallone (the Raid film), Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture, along with Tony Jaa are all returning to the action franchise. They’re joined by martial arts superstars Tony Jaa and IkoUwais. Unfortunately, the film’s other aspects are disappointing. Expend4blesDrags down these bright spots
It clocks in with a 100-minute runtime that is oddly timed. Expend4bles ends just when it feels like it’s getting started, as the eponymous team of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Statham) are hired to get a nuke back from a deadly terrorist (Uwais). A cast too big to showcase properly in such a limited time makes the film feel incomplete, even though it follows the checklist of the franchise, with one memorable sequence (a motorcycle chase inside a cargo vessel) and an overwhelming number of one-liners about pee.
New additions like Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Easy Day feel inessential, adding little and calling attention to the cramped cast. Levy Tran’s Lash is another newcomer who gets an iconic weapon (a deadly whip) and fighting style but without a distinctive character. That her fight scenes are good, unlike Easy Day’s, only makes the missed potential all the more noticeable. There are also characters such as Galan (Jacob Scipio) who have a lot of potential. You can also read about how to get started.Get a good character (he talks a lot), but not any real action to create his own.
Expend4bles stretches the franchise to its limits, and those limits frankly don’t reach very far. There’s a level of self-awareness to Expendables films that can make their paper-thin plotting and characterization excusable — in the end, they’re just a reason to see certain action legends interact with each other. But in a decade-plus of homage, the series hasn’t developed any stylistic flourishes of its own. Mission: Impossible has its signature stunts and Fast and Furious films their improbable uses of cars. But the Expendables doesn’t have a calling card. There’s nothing for fans to look forward to beyond Jason Statham’s resilient charm and Sylvester Stallone’s braggadocio. People who are interested in these items can find them elsewhere.
Expend4blesOpening in cinemas Sept. 22,
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