Fans find themselves divided and perplexed when it comes to the next installment of The Expendables movie franchise, and their sentiments are entirely understandable. The disappointment they experienced in the previous installment still lingers, leaving a bitter aftertaste for many.
Following the success of the first two Expendables films, expectations soared for the third entry. Regrettably, The Expendables 3 fell short and emerged as a colossal letdown for most fans. Several factors contributed to this disappointment: the introduction of a new group of young Expendables that failed to capture fans' interest, the decision to dilute the film's content by aiming for a PG-13 rating, the persistently subpar CGI effects, and the underutilization of iconic figures like Schwarzenegger, Banderas, and Li. All of these elements fueled the frustration of many fans, and this discontent was painfully reflected in the film's underwhelming box office performance.
We were anticipating this:
But we got this:
The concept behind The Expendables, originally conceived by Sylvester Stallone, was to assemble action heroes from the 80s and early 90s who had disappeared from the silver screen. The first movie made an attempt but fell short of fully realizing this vision. Stallone and Lundgren were the only recognizable names from the 80s with significant roles, while Willis and Schwarzenegger made cameo appearances. Van Damme declined to join, Norris was absent, and other familiar faces like Chan, Seagal, Russell, and more were either not invited or declined the invitation. To compensate for these absences, Stallone introduced more recent action stars like Statham and Li, as well as martial artists, football players, wrestlers, and actors from direct-to-video action movies.
The movie achieved success and paved the way for a sequel with even greater investment and studio interest. Stallone capitalized on the opportunity by securing larger roles for Van Damme, Norris, Willis, and Schwarzenegger, moving closer to his original vision.
The tremendous success of The Expendables 2 generated even more excitement for a third installment. The cast expanded, with additional household names like Ford, Gibson, Snipes, and Banderas joining the ensemble. Chan's involvement was nearly secured, but he ultimately dropped out, while Seagal once again failed to make the cut, despite Stallone's efforts. Despite these setbacks, fans were initially thrilled with the overall cast. However, as explained earlier, the movie ultimately disappointed.
Now, as we approach The Expendables 4, it's the last opportunity for 75-year-old Stallone to fully realize his vision. Fans were hopeful that this time, it would come to fruition. They anticipated the reunion of action legends like Chan, Russell, and Seagal, Schwarzenegger in a significant role leading his own team of mercenaries pitted against Stallone's crew, and the inclusion of classic 80s action icons like Dudikoff, Lamas, Weathers, and more to create the ultimate action movie experience.
Unfortunately, the franchise producers had a different plan in mind. They sidelined Stallone and elevated Statham to the forefront. They moved away from the original 80s action hero vision and introduced Megan Fox and 50 Cent, cost-effective actors from the direct-to-video industry who wouldn't overshadow Statham. Stallone took on a supporting role to pass the torch, and if the film succeeds at the box office, they intend to continue the franchise with Statham as the lead.
Whether you're disheartened by these developments or still a dedicated fan of the franchise, it's worth giving the new movie a chance. While it may not fulfill the dream of an 80s action hero reunion led by Stallone, it can still deliver a solid action movie experience with the presence of formidable stars like Statham, Lundgren, and Stallone himself. Who knows, in the coming weeks, we might even be pleasantly surprised by the addition of another major star to the cast.
With the hope for an Expendables 4 reminiscent of the 80s now faded, let's aspire to see a classic and robust action film that entertains us all.