Expend4bles (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Scott Waugh, written by Kurt Wimmer, Tad Daggerhart and Max Adams and starring Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Andy Garcia, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Lucy Newman-Williams, Daren Nop, Cody Mackie, Cokey Falkow and Dan Chupong.
Jason Statham top lines the large ensemble action movie cast in the entertaining but forgettable sequel, Expend4bles, directed by Scott Waugh. Expend4bles doesn’t waste any time getting into the action of the film with an explosive opening that sets the stage for the events that follow. The bad guy this time out is Rahmat (Iko Uwais) who is actually pretty serviceable but these Expendables movies have usually been about the heroes more than the villains. The problem with the new movie is that Statham is forced to single-handedly carry most of the movie while everyone else seems to be making up their part in the action as they go along. That is with the exception of Sylvester Stallone who once again capably plays Barney, an action hero like no other who will go to extremes to get back his ring in a bar with Christmas (Statham) kicking ass by his side. Stallone’s role is a bit limited but, nevertheless, Stallone has fun whenever he appears on screen.
Megan Fox plays Christmas’s girlfriend, Gina. Fox and Statham bicker and argue throughout the film, stopping to make love in a steamy scene that looks like it probably belongs in another movie. To Fox’s credit, she plays Gina with a passionate sense of humor that manifests itself in several key scenes throughout the movie. When Christmas and Barney show up at her home, Gina lets them know what she thinks about them in her moments of what feels like hilarious and spontaneous line delivery. A lot of this movie feels improvised, however. The natural ability of the performers covers up the fact there is not much substance to the dialogue. Case in point: when a key character named Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) talks about his blonde wig, it feels like the dialogue was made up on the spot and lacks agency.
The plot thickens when Barney is killed and Christmas and his crew of “expendables” seek out vengeance against the evil Rahmat who seems to have plans of world dominance at his helm. Tossed into the movie is a group leader named Marsh (Andy Garcia) who leads our characters into some dangerous action and 50 Cent as Easy Day who participates in the action scenes with terrific aplomb.
The action takes place in several different locations throughout the movie. As the movie shifts back and forth between scenes taking flight in other places, there feels like there are some continuity gaps in the action but the biggest surprise of the movie is when…well that’s a spoiler I certainly cannot reveal here. To discuss the spoiler without revealing the spoiler is a bit impossible. It is, however, a welcome surprise that saves the movie from mediocrity making it one of Statham’s better recent action pictures.
Expend4bles could easily work as a stand alone film. Many of the stars of the previous three films are no longer on board and when we join Stallone’s role in progress, the movie lays out the details of the plot in such a way that it’s easy to follow, continuity gaps aside.
Stallone makes his role heroic enough that he is certainly likable in the early scenes of the picture. Statham and Stallone play off each other with masterful humor and precision that makes their scenes together enjoyable to watch. Especially that scene in the bar at the beginning. Also on board in the supporting cast are Tony Jaa and Randy Couture whose work is at the level you’d expect from these high profile stars.
A lot of the action set pieces in Expend4bles are well done. The heroes and villains are laid out to the audience in a way that makes it interesting to see what will happen next. As the audience waits for the major revelation of the plot (that big surprise), Statham and Fox play one of the quirkier romantic couples in recent movie history. Fox, in particular, has returned to her action film forte, though, and does a nice job.
Expend4bles doesn’t have the substance to make it anything other than a basic (but capably made) action picture and that may be enough for people who like the franchise. There were once a bunch of action heroes assembled to make the original Expendables movie. It’s sad many of them can’t be with us again for this fourth installment but the torch has been passed to Statham who will undoubtedly pass it to a new action hero one day if the series is to continue. If this film ended the series, though, it would be a nice way to say goodbye to a franchise that has entertained audiences throughout the years. These films are mindless fun and will be remembered as such.
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