There’s a charm to action movies that appeal to a primal desire to see things go crazy. Whether that’s from explosions, wild fist fights, or shootouts among two groups of people. When you think of action movies, chances are at least two of those things are going down. But when you gather a crew of past and present action stars into one movie, you expect all of it to happen in fantastic fashion. This is why The Expendables series worked out well for those who have an affinity for the genre. But while the first few films hit all the right notes to have a great plan come together, The Expendables 4(also known as Expend4bles) unfortunately falls significantly short. To the point that not even die-hard fans of the series can defend how rough it can get watching it.
The movie begins with Barney and Lee getting a team together to stop a mercenary named Rahmat from stealing nuclear warheads in Libya. Things appear to go right until the army they face manages to be more than a match for The Expendables. The mission ends when the team is hit with a devastating blow and Rahmat manages to steal the warheads. In order to retaliate and get back the stolen warheads, the CIA sends the Expendables back out under new leadership for a new mission connected to Barney’s past work. All is not as it seems as the team faces down a mercenary army undergoing a dangerous mission that will take them to Asia and near Russian territory.
At first glance, The Expendables 4 appears to make some bold moves early on with certain characters. However, the movie never truly commits to it and instead plays it off as a clever misdirect. It simply does not work and feels like a deus ex machina by the time the climax rolls in. The explanation given by the end of the film feels very lackluster and borders on being absurd. Not just for logical reasons, but by even the rules set by previous Expendable films.
Most of the movie is focused on Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, who is Barney’s friend and partner. Although Barney is around, he disappears for most of the movie, so a lot of the movie’s weight is dependent on Statham as things go south for everyone. Although it is always great to see him in action at any time, he gets some really good fight scenes and shootouts, he’s only part of the formula as to why the previous Expendables movies worked. It becomes less of an Expendables movie and more of a generic Jason Statham movie because of that.
But is Statham complimented by a great cast of action stars in their own right? Not really, at least not as much as some of the heavyweight action icons that were involved before. Instead of having Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, or even Harison Ford; we get stars who are more relevant today but don’t have as much presence. Instead, we get Jacob Scipio, 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson), Tony Jaa, and Megan Fox playing various roles in the story.
Each of them is great in their own right in other films, but in The Expendables 4, they all feel like placeholders or replacements for previous stars with far better resonance in the genre. Seeing Megan Fox and Levy Tran on the team adds some diversity to the group with more women in the mix, but they don’t add too much to what the movie is lacking. They are both stars, but nowhere near the level in action movies as some of their predecessors. It maybe would’ve been a far better choice to seek out other big female action stars (like Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, or Charlize Theron) that have a greater presence in the genre to really continue with the thematic elements of the series.
The overall story of the film feels is basic and what you would expect in a big-budget action movie, but again it lacks the charm of having major action icons being involved with it. Both Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture reprise their roles as Gunner and Toll, but are not utilized as interestingly as they were in previous Expendables films. They’re around for a few fights and goofy moments that might get a laugh for some but will fall flat for everyone else. This is also a big issue with the humor of the film, which tries very hard to be funny a bit too often. One scene involves Jacob Scipio’s character Galan going into detail about his sexual exploits (a golden shower is mentioned) which overstays its time very quickly and is just not funny.
It’s awkward and very out of place for both the characters on screen and the audience. At the same time, moments throughout the later acts that are funny get undercut but follow-ups that are either lame or awkward as well. Luckily there are some fights that happen afterward to keep things moving and get things back on track, but it happens more often than one would like.
But is the action in The Expendables 4 good enough to live up to the rest of the series? There are some brutal fights and cool shootouts that are definitely fun to watch. However, some of them involve laughable-looking special effects that don’t look finished. A truly hard-edged scene with the team in combat might lose some of its momentum by a vehicle that really looks out of place because of the CGI effects on it. This happens a lot with some of the shots involving aerial vehicles and trucks, as well as many giant explosions. By the end of the movie, things are already so wacky with the plot that the look of the explosions won’t matter too much.
The Expendables 4 is not a great movie, even if it has a few moments that fans of the series might enjoy watching. The series at this point seems to have lost its way or gotten tired. Whether due in part to decisions made behind the scenes or poor planning, The Expendables 4 just doesn’t have the same vibe and excitement that previous films did. The star power in this sequel doesn’t seem like enough to overlook many of the issues that pop up. Each one of the stars that make up this team might be good outside of it, but here everyone falls together as a team. They just couldn’t get the job done right.
What do you think of The Expendables 4? Will you be watching it anytime soon? Who is your favorite action movie star of all time? Tell us your thoughts about everything down below in the comment section!
The Expendables 4 (Expend4bles)
This movie has fights and action scenes that can be good, but are brought down by poor special effects. The story is shallow and not as interesting as previous films in the series. The new stars added to The Expendables team don’t have the same impact or iconic status in the genre as their predecessors. The humor in the movie does not work and comes off as awkward. Some twists in the plot feel very random and don’t work.
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