Sep 22, 2023

A Franchise in Transition - Review By ActionMan

The majority of reviews for Expend4bles have been negative, with very few exceptions. As for me, I'm likely one of the few with an impartial opinion. I didn't particularly like the movie, but I didn't hate it either. Therefore, in my review, I will strive to be as objective as possible without resorting to bashing the film, as I didn't find it to be a complete disaster. However, I won't shy away from criticizing it because, in general, it falls short of being a great action movie.

For those who visit this blog, it's out of their love for a franchise that has always stood out for assembling iconic action legends from the 80s and 90s. This is what we cherished about this series created by Sylvester Stallone. The thrill of watching our childhood icons united in a kick-ass action movie, reminding us of those glory days. Most of us are now in our 40s or even 50s, belonging to a certain category of moviegoers. We expect the Expendables filmmakers to understand this and give us what we want because we believe the tickets that fund these movies come from us.

Now, in its fourth installment, titled "Expend4bles," directed by Scott Waugh and starring Jason Statham as the central character, Lee Christmas, the series takes a bold step into new territory. The movie is an attempt to celebrate the nostalgic B-movie charm of the 80s and 90s, but it suffers greatly due to a lower budget and CGI limitations. In my opinion, this is the paradox of Expend4bles, and it's where the filmmakers lost their way in trying to strike a balance.

Shifting Focus

One of the most noticeable shifts in "Expend4bles" is the change in focus. Previous films in the series placed great emphasis on the ensemble cast, notably led by our beloved character, Sylvester Stallone's Barney Ross. However, in this installment, the spotlight firmly rests on Jason Statham's Lee Christmas. Stallone's Barney Ross makes only a cameo appearance, contributing minimally to the plot. But for those of us who have been hardcore fans of the series and have often visited this site to follow the movie’s development, this was no surprise or secret. Reviews lamenting this change probably come from those who didn't know or realize the shift in direction by the filmmakers. Some of us have embraced this change, viewing it as a breath of fresh air, while many others longed for the camaraderie and chemistry of the full Expendables team. I believe this is another major point of contention in the movie, where the majority of fans seem to have voted against this change.

Jason Statham, therefore, assumes a central role in this installment. His fight scenes, particularly those opposite Iko Uwais, can be lauded as standout moments in the film. Statham's willingness to endure punishment during the action sequences adds an extra layer of authenticity to his character. However, the film's limited budget once again becomes apparent in its CGI, which is the biggest criticism for its subpar quality, diminishing the overall visual experience.

A B-Movie Revival

In my opinion, "Expend4bles" does a decent job of returning to the type of action films that once dominated cable television and video rental stores. It attempts to immerse itself in the spirit of B-movies, reminiscent of those churned out by the Cannon Group, known for their entertaining action sequences despite tighter budgets. While the film's more contained and budget-conscious approach may not match the grandeur of its predecessors, it does carry a certain nostalgic charm of classic action cinema, or at least it tries to.

New Additions and Character Dynamics

"Expend4bles" introduces a slew of new characters to the Expendables lineup, most notably Megan Fox, who plays a significant role and shares some good chemistry with Jason Statham's Lee Christmas. The decision to include both male and female team members injects a new dynamic into the franchise that may not be overly popular with some hardcore fans. For my part, I didn't mind it as long as it was done well. Nevertheless, character development is uneven, with some cast members receiving minimal attention in the plot. Andy Garcia joins the ensemble as the new CIA handler, delivering an average performance that adds to the poor ensemble's dynamics.

A Less Ambitious Plot

The Expendables movies have never been renowned for their plots, and fans like us have been forgiving of that as long as the ensemble cast was top notch and actions were well-executed. This film's plot is characterized as straightforward and formulaic, revolving around the Expendables' mission to prevent the theft of a nuclear device. While this simplicity may resonate with viewers seeking a pop corn action flick, it is the weakest of the four movies. The storyline lacks the depth we felt in previous installments, with twists that can be easily predicted. Additionally, the film's script and dialogue are annoying for their stilted delivery and moments of corny humor.

Navigating the Transition
"Expend4bles" marks a significant transition within the Expendables franchise. It adopts a lower-stakes, more focused approach centered around Jason Statham's Lee Christmas. While it may not reach the same heights as its predecessors, the film offers a nostalgic B-movie experience. Notable strengths include Jason Statham's portrayal of Lee Christmas and his chemistry with Megan Fox, which stand out. However, its limited budget and CGI quality have hurt the movie tremendously.

As the Expendables franchise continues to evolve, "Expend4bles" tries to serve as a bridge between its past and potential future, navigating the challenging terrain of reinvention while striving to satisfy the expectations of its dedicated fanbase, but unfortunately falls short of doing so.

1 comment:

  1. Although I liked the movie more than you, you put out a great review on EX4! That's what I love about this place. In-depth and serious texts from people really caring about this franchise.