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.

Couture on Set

A photo of Couture on set with the movie’s stunt coordinator Rok Cvetkov.

Jan 22, 2022

Statham on Set

A photo of Statham on set taken by a stunt performer when shooting in Greece.

Jan 16, 2022

John Wick 4 vs. Expendables 4: Which Upcoming Action Movie Will Be Better?

John Wick 4 and The Expendables 4 are poised to be two of the biggest entries into the action genre in the near future. But which one will be better?

The upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4 and The Expendables 4 are poised to be two of the biggest entries into the action movie genre arriving in the near future. The fourth installments of both franchises are packed with icons from popular action and martial arts films. With the two on the horizon, it’s worth wondering which theatrical action flick will top the other – both critically and commercially.

Considering that there hasn’t been an Expendables movie since 2014, some believed that Sylvester Stallone’s action ensemble franchise died with the third film’s failure. Though there was talk of a fourth film for quite a while, it took years before official plans began to take shape. Confirmed for a 2022 release, The Expendables 4 will reunite Barney Ross’ elite squad of trained killers. In addition to a returning cast that boasts Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Jason Statham, The Expendables 4 has some interesting new additions, such as 50 Cent, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, and Megan Fox.

In contrast to The Expendables, the John Wick franchise hasn’t slowed down. Having only kicked off in 2014, the series of revenge thrillers starring Keanu Reeves is already on its fourth chapter and is continuing to pick up steam. Previously set for a 2022 release, John Wick 4 was delayed to 2023. But while 2022 won’t ultimately feature an exciting box office battle between the two action giants, there’s still a debate to be had over which movie will be a bigger hit for the genre. Here’s how John Wick Chapter 4 and The Expendables 4 compare to each other, and which one has a better chance of surpassing the other. 

John Wick 4 & Expendables 4 Are Two Of The Biggest Upcoming Action Movies

The casts that have been assembled for their respective fourth installments show that they’re two of the most important upcoming action movies. In the case of The Expendables 4, stars as big as Stallone and Statham obviously need no introduction. Their presence alone is a boon to the movie’s potential. The movie doesn’t appear to be bringing back Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, or Terry Crews, but having mainstays like Lundgren and Couture around should help ensure that it carries over its fanbase from the first three movies. Uwais and Jaa may not have the same level of name recognition, but being fan-favorite martial arts stars could widen its audience. 50 Cent can contribute in that regard as well.

The Expendables of course still has a reputation as the franchise with the most action icons, but the John Wick movies are demonstrating a capability to compete in the area of star power. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum delighted martial arts fans by featuring Mark Dacascos and Scott Adkins in major roles. And thanks to appearances from Lawrence Fishburne and Halle Berry, John Wick 3 was able to please mainstream audiences at the same time. With Donnie Yen appearing in John Wick: Chapter 4, the franchise is in a position to repeat (and potentially expand on) the success of that formula. After starring in the Ip Man movies, Yen is one of the most popular actors of the current generation of kung fu movies. In fact, he’s emerged as a successor of sorts to Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who dominated the Hong Kong action movie scene in the 1990s and 2000s. Adding to that, recent roles in movies like Mulan and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story have allowed the actor to earn even greater stardom over the last few years. Yen’s inclusion, combined with the popularity of the first three movies (not to mention Keanu Reeves himself), is assured to bring a great deal of international attention to John Wick: Chapter 4 in 2023.

John Wick 4 vs Expendables 4: Which Action Movie Will Be Better?

In terms of critic reviews and the reactions of general audiences, John Wick has certainly been a step up from The Expendables. Looking at where both franchises are now, there’s a sense that John Wick: Chapter 4 holds an advantage over The Expendables 4 when it comes to which one will be better quality-wise. Parabellum didn’t go over quite as well as the first two movies, but the franchise has consistently delivered solid stories packed with interesting characters, thrilling action sequences, and a style that has yet to go stale with audiences. The sheer number of John Wick clones that studios have been making signifies just how well its formula works. And the notion that the franchise has been consistent is a great sign for its future. All things considered, John Wick: Chapter 4 is the favorite to win in this respect. That being said, The Expendables 4 has an opportunity to really turn some heads. The last Expendables movie disappointed on several levels, but if the latest film fixes what went wrong before it could turn into a fun, explosive ride driven by some of the best names in the genre. It’s possible that by focusing on a smaller cast of actors (ala John Wick), The Expendables 4 can create some truly memorable moments for Stallone’s Ross and the rest of its characters.

John Wick 4 vs Expendables 4 Box Office: Which Will Make More Money?

The better movie won’t necessarily be the most profitable of the two. Which of the two will perform the best at the global box office? To properly analyze how the situation will play out, it’s important to take note of how both franchises have fared financially. As a whole, The Expendables series has earned a much bigger profit. Encompassing all three movies, The Expendables has a net gross of $804 million, whereas John Wick has brought in only $587 million. However, there are indications that the gap between them may narrow significantly once their fourth chapters have been released.

The interest in Stallone’s ensemble franchise seemingly tapered off with Expendables 3, which only grossed a meager $214 million. John Wick, on the other hand, has been heading in the opposite direction. Its third movie vastly outperformed both of its predecessors. So far, the box office value of the John Wick franchise has grown tremendously since the first film hit theaters in 2014. If John Wick: Chapter 4 continues the trend (which feels like a very strong possibility at this point), it should come out ahead of The Expendables 4. Based on what happened with The Expendables 3, a complete turnaround will be needed for The Expendables 4 to beat John Wick: Chapter 4 at the box office.

By Nicholas Raymond