Jan 23, 2022

Expendables 4 Taking So Long To Happen Can Make It Even Better

The Expendables 4 is taking a long time to happen, arriving close to a decade after the last entry in the series, but this has the potential to make it even better. Following years of false starts and development hell, The Expendables 4 finally entered production in 2021. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture are set to return, while The Expendables 4 will also add 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, and Iko Uwais to its roster. A release date hasn't been set yet, but depending on the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the general release calendar, The Expendables 4 could hit theaters later in 2022.

The Expendables franchise began with the 2010 original, which sold itself as the gathering of action heroes audiences had long been waiting for. The success of The Expendables led to its 2012 sequel The Expendables 2, which was an even bigger box office hit and widely regarded as the best of the franchise. Unfortunately, The Expendables 3 was unable to replicate the same level of success. This led to The Expendables taking a long break with rumors of a fourth installment swirling but never bearing fruit until The Expendables 4 finally got rolling.

While it's been eight years since The Expendables' last mission, the long gap since The Expendables 3 could be a blessing in disguise. Big franchises sometimes lose energy to such an extent that closing the book might seem like the wisest course of action. In other cases, it might simply be best to let the dust settle for a while after an underperformance to make a comeback possible. Here's why The Expendables 4 could prove to be an example of the latter.

The Franchise Needed A Break After The Expendables 3

After the success of the first two Expendables movies, The Expendables 3 was a significant downturn. Commercially, The Expendables 3 pulled in $214.7 million, the lowest-grossing of the three to date with just $39.3 million from North America. The film's misguided PG-13 rating has been pointed to as the main culprit for the failings of The Expendables 3. While that's certainly a factor after the first two R-rated installments, the movie's overall reception did the series no favors either.

The Expendables 3 is generally regarded as the weakest movie in the franchise with an ensemble that had grown much too large. The film's failure understandably slowed all progress on continuing the franchise, but this ended up being for the best. After such a steep drop, giving it a break for a few years while taking the time to consider what the best revival strategy could be was the best way for it to return. The long gap also allowed The Expendables 4 to give itself a new hook.

The Expendables 4 Can Be A Legacy Sequel Now

As The Expendables 4 entered production, there was much speculation that the movie would be Stallone's last in the series. This was partially fueled by the rumored title The Expendables: A Christmas Story, referencing Jason Statham's character Lee Christmas. Stallone eventually confirmed that The Expendables 4 is Barney Ross' last ride, also stating that he's "ready to pass the baton to Jason." By passing the reins from Barney Ross to Lee Christmas, The Expendables 4 is now much more than simply the belated fourth chapter of the series.

Had The Expendables 4 simply been made as the next movie in the series, it would have a much steeper hill to climb after the failure of The Expendables 3. The series' decline needed to incentivize audiences to return, and the newly reinstated R-rating of The Expendables 4 is a good start on that front. Being marketed as a torch-passing legacy sequel gives The Expendables 4 a whole new gimmick. With the film marking the fourth appearance of Barney Ross, he's become one of Sylvester Stallone's most enduring characters. The idea of Barney finally retiring alongside the general nostalgic component of The Expendables makes The Expendables 4 a unique entry in the series. However, aside from Lee succeeding him, a few of the new members of the cast are some of its biggest drawing points.

Tony Jaa & Iko Uwais Have Upped The Anticipation For The Expendables 4

The entire basis of The Expendables has always been bringing together an action star ensemble every time. By enlisting Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais, The Expendables 4 has already driven anticipation to new levels. Not only are both incredible martial artists, each has headlined some of the best action movies ever made. Jaa broke out with Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong, while Uwais led The Raid movies and other Indonesia action hits like Headshot. Both have also since achieved mainstream popularity in the West, as well.

After his rise as a martial artist in Thailand, Tony Jaa made the transition to Hollywood with action movies like Skin Trade, Furious 7, and Jiu Jitsu. Uwais also established a Western presence with Beyond Skyline and the Netflix series Wu Assassins, and both were also key players in the action ensemble Triple Threat. With Jaa and Uwais both known and acclaimed action stars around the world, their presence in The Expendables 4 makes the movie a much bigger deal. Furthermore, as the villain of the sequel, Uwais also adds a whole new element to the series in likely being its most hands-on antagonist. Set photos show Jason Statham in a confrontation with Uwais' character, corroborating the notion of the kind of Expendables 4 villain Iko Uwais will be. With the possibility of Jaa and Uwais also facing off in The Expendables 4, audiences have a lot to draw them back to the franchise after its long hibernation.

The irony of the long wait for the return of The Expendables is that it's arguably put the franchise back in the very position it began with. Namely, that's riding a wave of nostalgia for action movie glory days. The Expendables 4 has a lot going for it with the legacy element of Stallone handing the series off to Statham and the boarding of Jaa and Uwais. Even with these assets, The Expendables 4 might've still faced quite a challenge in re-energizing the series if it had come just two or three years after The Expendables 3. With several years worth of breathing room on its side, The Expendables 4 can far more vigorously capitalizeon what it brings to the franchise.


  1. Excellent text. I think the addition of Uwais and Jaa was right, as this desire has been in the minds of fans for a long time. As this film seems to have a better story, the presence of few actors from the 90s seems to be compensated. But, the addition of certain actors like 50 Cent, Scipio, Tran and Shah seems to be a bit hasty in regards to the "revitalization" concept.

    If Tran, 50 Cent, Scipio and Shah don't act as expected, the film will lose some of its essence as it did in the third film. What matters here is the performance. The choice of Garcia and Fox is not a cause for concern, as they perform very well in almost any type of film. But the four mentioned cause some apprehension, especially in relation to the characters themselves. Scipio will be the son of the Galgo and, as a result, he already has a relationship with the lore of the franchise. But Tran, 50 Cent, Fox and Shah are completely new to Lore. Eddie Hall is new to the franchise too, but he's already won over fans' affection with just his muscles and angry face, given the concept of muscles and brutality present in all the franchise's films. He's perfect for a secondary villain.

    As mentioned in the text, 4 is a chance to give the franchise a new face. This is very possible, as, with Statham in the lead, new villains from past movies he's faced or from movies from the past decade can be chosen to play. Undeniably, who hasn't thought that, with Statham leading the way, Dwayne Johnson would be the perfect villain for an Expendables 5? The two have even made a Fast and Furious spin-off and have a very good acting sync.

    However, they really should rethink the possibility of working on better plots and, at the same time, rescue a little bit of the original concept of the franchise, as many people were almost in shock when they learned that the cast was reduced and that many young people were chosen for the cast. Even I, who am a big fan of the franchise, missed a bit of the hype and so far I'm suspicious of what might be presented on the day of the film's release. I don't doubt Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Couture, Garcia, Uwais, Jaa and Fox. But the rest worries me a lot, especially if they don't act as Expendables and are given screen time just to waste.

    The costumes are well crafted and revitalized. Fox's latex-like pants are a bit odd for an action movie with mercenaries, but if the action is enough, it's possible for the attentive viewer to forgive that. It's not possible they didn't think of putting mercenary clothes on Fox just like Rogue (2020). It was the least to be done. Besides her, Shah looks like a model cosplaying a soldier. This is really weird. Why not choose a legendary actress like Cynthia Rothrock?

    Finally, I just hope that 4 doesn't make the same mistakes as 3.

  2. Wonder when we can expect something official, like a teaser.
    We dont even know the release date, though I am guessing its august 2022