"The Expendables 4" held the promise of redemption for a franchise that had faltered in its previous installment. My enthusiasm was such that I implored the blog's original founder to let me keep it alive, eagerly anticipating the fourth installment. However, he had reservations, having been disappointed by the third entry and predicting a potentially worse fate for the series. Despite these warnings, my optimism persisted, fueled by the hope that "The Expendables 4" would breathe new life into the saga.
Upon the film's announcement and its shift in formula, with Sylvester Stallone stepping back and Jason Statham taking the lead alongside fresh faces, my optimism remained steadfast. I still craved for the movie to honor its roots and deliver the '80s-style action that we had come to associate with the franchise.
The Lost Essence of "Expendables":
My optimism waned as I watched "Expend4bles". It became evident that this wasn't an authentic "Expendables" movie; instead, it felt like a run-of-the-mill action film with Jason Statham in the lead. Despite the warnings about Statham's prominent role, this reality only fully sinks in during the film itself. What we get is a standard Statham action vehicle supported by a cast of B-listers, falling short of his best movies and lacking the charm of the original series.
The initial concept of "The Expendables" was to pay homage to the golden age of action films, featuring icons like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sadly, the fourth chapter devolves into a pale imitation of Netflix action movies, losing all the elements that had made the series enjoyable.
Uninspiring Action Sequences:
The action sequences, at best, are average. Despite boasting stars like Statham, Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, and the additions of Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa, the film fails to deliver electrifying action. Instead, we are treated to dull action sequences that fail to capitalize on the signature artistry of these action stars. Scott Waugh, whose filmography was already questionable, delivers an uninspiring adaptation of the material, leaving much to be desired.
Expectations were high for martial artists like Jaa and Uwais, with hopes of witnessing exceptional combat sequences. Unfortunately, this potential goes to waste, with the fight between Statham and Uwais feeling one-sided, making the latter appear as an amateur in his own domain. "Triple Threat" did a much better job of utilizing these actors.
“High Value Target”:
"Expend4bles" retains elements from Cohen's original script, where Statham and Jaa were intended to collaborate in a ship-based action sequence reminiscent of "The Raid." While the movie may give the impression of a Statham/Jaa buddy movie to some extent, that's as far as it goes. The script, when purchased by Millennium, held promises that seem to have remained unfulfilled in this adaptation.
Weak Supporting Cast:
The new additions to the cast, including Megan Fox (playing an annoying character) and 50 Cent, feel like placeholders to support Statham, while Andy Garcia's presence seems out of place. The film fails to explain the inclusion of the new Expendables, leaving audiences guessing and lacking character development. It feels like we are being asked to assume what might have happened between the 3rd installment and this sequel. Jacob Scipio's character, supposedly taking the mantle from his dad, Antonio Banderas, is introduced in a casual and moronic manner.
The film stumbles with an excess of unnecessary characters who contribute little to the plot. At least in the previous chapters, the cameos or overload of characters were represented by action legends, and their presence was enjoyable. Here, the cameos are filled by B-listers.
Sylvester Stallone's role is relegated to a minor supporting character, appearing for a mere 10-15 minutes, but we already knew that. He has no fight scenes, looks tired, and seems to try to convey to us that he's done with this franchise. It's evident that this isn't his movie, his vision is absent, and his entrance at the end only serves to worsen an already questionable storyline.
Speaking of the story, while expectations were not high to begin with, it manages to disappoint further by lacking coherence. The plot feels rushed and the characters poorly developed. Multiple rewrites appear to have left the storyline in a state of chaos. Predictable plot twists only add to the disappointment.
A glance at the producers' rather pathetic interviews on YouTube revealed their ambition to justify the film as a fan-centric project aimed at rectifying the mistakes of "The Expendables 3". This ambition seems misplaced. The franchise has clearly shifted away from its roots, primarily focusing on relaunching itself with Statham at the forefront. The only positive aspect is that it left the door open for Stallone's return, should he ever wish to continue the franchise.
Despite its many shortcomings, Jason Statham's performance remains at his usual standard. The first action sequence was emotional at first, up to the point where it was turned into a joke. I believe if it had been handled differently, it could have added an interesting tone to the movie and heightened the stakes, engaging the audience more deeply. Iko Uwais was a good choice for the antagonist, although he doesn’t quite reach the heights of his performance in "The Raid” and plays a weak villain.
"The Expendables 4" falls short of expectations and fails to live up to the previous entries in the franchise. While die-hard Statham fans may find some satisfaction, those hoping for a return to the franchise's glory days or seeking a dose of '80s action nostalgia will likely leave the theater disappointed.
Is it worth a trip to the cinema? Probably not, and it's doubtful the film will fare well at the box office. As for the future of the franchise, it remains unclear; these producers have a knack for finding reasons to churn out sequels.
This marks my farewell to the series, unless a cinematic miracle unfolds in "The Expendables 5." Some of my friends will probably continue to post on the blog. As for me, I bid adieu with gratitude to those who remained loyal to the blog throughout the years. Ciao!