This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"Expend4bles is a film completely out of time and shockingly shoddy in its execution."
BY JACK RANSOM SEPTEMBER 26, 2023
Arriving 9 years after 2014’s third instalment of this geriaction franchise. Expend4bles sees old faces (Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren & Randy Coutoure) and new blood (Megan Fox, 50 Cent, Tony Jaa, Jacob Scipio) & Levy Tran) join forces as the last line of defence to protect the world from a nuclear threat.
Let’s be brutally honest: no-one was waiting or wanting this, especially nearly a decade after its predecessor and countless superior, modernised action flicks released in between. However, with the Stath at the forefront and a return to an R-rating (hilariously cringy trailer celebrating this aside), I did have a slither of hope that this could be entertaining schlock.
Whilst there are moments of the mean spirited B-Movie trash that I craved and despite being atrociously written and built upon a paper thin plot it does move fairly swiftly. Everything else character and narrative-wise? Pretty much terrible. This was originally going to be a Statham led spin-off (genuinely titled The Expendables: A Christmas Story) which then overtime morphed into a full fledged fourth outing. It is abundantly clear that this was the case, as JS takes centre stage for about 80% of the runtime, yet the story has been reworked into this generic “terrorist/blow up the US” that you will have seen a million times before and be actively forgetting whilst watching. His Expendable crew spend the remaining 20% accompanying him in a god-awful airfield action sequence… and standing around in rooms.The dialogue is genuinely horrendous and any attempt at any emotion (from lust, to anger, to sadness…) comes off utterly laughable and so devoid of any chemistry or wit it has to be heard to be believed.
What has to be seen to be believed is the green screen/CGI. I honestly think it might be the worst I have seen from a big screen cinematic release. Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania & The Flash certainly had their eyesore moments, but what we have here is truly some Asylum/SyFy Channel, hell even Windows Movie Maker level quality on display here. The entire airfield action sequence is a complete visual disaster. Entire PlayStation cutscenes worth of explosions and bizarre insistence on frequently showcasing this digital vomit is beyond belief. This also goes for the ocean green screen of the final third, disastrous. There is undeniable satisfaction in seeing Statham butcher his way through countless baddies and his machine gun equipped motorcycle shootout and team up with Tony Jaa have their “turn off your brain” moments. Everything else is mostly irritatingly shot in shaky-cam and cut around for those either older or less experienced in the stunt game. Also, yes obviously blood makes everything better when it comes to action…however garish CGI splatter, not so much.
Performance-wise… look no-one is expecting Oscar worthy portrayals here, but this is mostly rough. Statham’s attempts at genuine emotion are purely frown based, but he fares the best here with his physical performance and snark. Stallone mumbles and croaks his way through lines, Megan Fox’s introduction scene is excruciating, 50 Cent (whose song P.I.M.P. is diegetically featured, I kid you not), Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture are planks of wood, offering little here especially in the action sequences. Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais both bring charisma. The former gets some highlights, whereas the latter is pretty much completely wasted. Lastly, Andy Garcia,seems to strike a balance of bored hamminess which is something to be proud of? Probably not.
Expend4bles is a film completely out of time and shockingly shoddy in its execution. Its junk food moments of ‘so bad it’s good’ pleasure when it comes to head shooting, throat slitting Statham rampage tickle the popcorn munching dumb fun part of my brain, the briskly swift pacing for the most part and entertainment factor by purely laughing at what is being shown on screen, saves it from being a complete disaster.However, make no mistake, the screenplay is abysmal, the performances are mostly poor, the green screen and digital effects are staggeringly awful and genuinely shocking that they passed the quality test before release and you will pretty much have forgotten everything about it a day after watching. What was I reviewing again?