This is my first post on the blog of which I've been a fan for a decade, so thanks for the opportunity to share my review.
I finally watched "Expend4bles," and I was very surprised to find only ten people in the theater. However, to my amazement, the movie exceeded my expectations, despite the numerous negative reviews. I entered with low expectations, but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. I agree with the criticism that it doesn't truly feel like an authentic Expendables film, but as a standalone Jason Statham action movie, it holds up well. I approached it as a Statham action flick, and it delivered precisely that.
So, what's the deal with this one? The plot goes like this: a group of mercenaries known as the Expendables is on a mission to stop Rahmat (portrayed by Iko Uwais), the villain du jour, from unleashing mass destruction with stolen nukes. It's reminiscent of '80s Cold War thrillers but lacks the charisma and heart-pounding excitement.
Stallone returns as Barney Ross, our beloved leader, but here's the twist—they sideline him for a significant portion of the film. Instead, Jason Statham steps up as Lee Christmas. Don't get me wrong; Statham is a legitimate action star, and he carries the movie quite well on his shoulders. He's a solid action hero.
Let's discuss the female characters. Megan Fox's character, Gina, seems like she's thrown into the mix to add some eye candy and deliver outdated humor, but her beauty distracts from these shortcomings. It's a cringe-worthy portrayal that doesn't do justice to the strong, complex heroines we expect in action cinema. However, this critique applies only when viewed through the lens of an Expendables film. In the context of a Statham movie, as his love interest, she performs effectively.
Levy Tran takes on the role of Lash. She adds style to the team, but her character lacks depth, and there's no explanation or character development for her. They should have omitted her character; she felt unnecessary and ruined a little bit of the only good fight scene featuring Tony Jaa.
As for the action sequences, they're filled with shaky camera work and frenetic editing. It's a bit of a visual mess, and you'll find yourself trying to figure out what's actually happening on the screen. This isn't the clean, precise action choreography of the past; it's more like a chaotic barroom brawl. Nonetheless, for a Statham action movie destined for home viewing, it's really good.
Now, about the humor—well, it's a far cry from Stallone and Schwarzenegger trading witty one-liners. The jokes often fall flat, and the camaraderie among the Expendables feels forced. The issue is that '80s humor doesn't quite fit in today's world when imposed on actors who don't belong to the pantheon of action heroes. They should have skipped the humor and not attempted to force it.
Now, delving into the supporting cast, Tony Jaa, known for his Thai martial arts skills, appears in the film, but it fails to fully showcase his talents. "Expend4bles" rushes his action sequences with clumsy camera work and choppy editing. It's a missed opportunity to let Jaa shine on the big screen. The producers clearly tried to blend two worlds between "High Value Target" and "The Expendables" and didn't succeed. It might have been better to stick with the Statham and Jaa dynamic, giving Jaa the screen time he deserved.
Then there's Iko Uwais, who wowed us with heart-pounding action in "The Raid: Redemption." Sadly, "Expend4bles" waters down his skills and charisma. The fight scenes lack the intensity and fluidity that made him a martial arts sensation. He's not Van Damme and Gibson and plays a weaker villain than the previous two installments. But again, this could have been a solid Statham/Jaa movie with Uwais as a proper villain given adequate screen time and depth with more fights between the three.
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson makes an appearance as Easy Day, seemingly meant to replace Terry Crews, but he falls far short, feeling more like a paycheck grab. His character lacks depth, and it's clear he's just along for the ride.
Andy Garcia takes on the role of a CIA contact who assigns the mission to the Expendables. While Garcia is undoubtedly a talented actor, his performance feels somewhat vacant, leaving you wondering if more could have been done with his character. In general, his presence feels out of place, especially following the roles played by the likes of Willis and Ford. The choice of the CIA character was questionable, and the end twist feels weak, in my opinion.
Lundgren and Couture have more prominent roles this time, likely to pay homage to the previous movies. However, Lundgren's appearance looks odd in this film; the hairpiece was a questionable choice.
But the most significant issue with "Expend4bles" is its identity crisis. It tries desperately to cling to the glory days of muscle-bound heroes and over-the-top action while striving to remain relevant in 2023 as a Statham movie, to ensure the franchise's future. In my opinion, they should have chosen one direction or the other, and in either case, committing fully would have resulted in a more promising film with better box office potential.
Now, don't get me wrong; if you're still nostalgic for the '80s and adore Stallone like I do, you might find some fleeting comfort in "Expend4bles." However, be forewarned—it's a far cry from what the series initially promised. Stallone's charisma still shines, but this movie? Well, in today's action cinema landscape, it's a good Statham movie with potential for future sequels.
Overall, I had a good time and liked it very much as a Statham movie, but I could have waited to stream it. As for the Expendables, perhaps it's a reminder that while we can cherish the past, sometimes it's best to leave it there and preserve the memory of the franchise in good spirits.