Expend4bles Review: An Explosive Yet Heavily Flawed Sequel

Expend4bles (2023).

Director Scott Waugh‘s Expend4bles, the fourth installment in the action-packed Expendables franchise, reunites an ensemble cast of action heroes from yesteryears with a few new faces. While it delivers its fair share of high-octane thrills and nostalgic moments, the film ultimately falls short of recapturing the magic that made the earlier entries in the series so beloved. It’s also the kind of movie that makes you can’t help but wonder why it was necessary. Did anybody out there actually desperately want a fourth Expendables movie? It’s heavily unlikely, much like how it’s heavily unlikely that most moviegoers will be entertained by this film.

The plot follows the aging mercenaries of The Expendables as they embark on a mission to Libya to prevent a rogue mercenary named Rahmat from obtaining nuclear warheads. This mission takes them on a globe-trotting adventure filled with explosive set pieces and betrayals, culminating in a showdown that could ignite World War III. The premise holds some potential to be fair, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

The Good:

Expendables 4 Expend4bles

 

One of the film’s strengths is its cast, which includes action icons like Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture reprising their roles. Their chemistry and camaraderie, built over the previous films, shine through in their interactions. However, the addition of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy García brings a mixed bag of performances. While some newcomers add depth and energy to the ensemble, others feel underutilized and fail to make a lasting impression.

The opening sequence sets the tone for the film’s action. It’s a spectacle of destruction and chaos, showcasing the team’s combat skills and their resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. Yet, this exhilarating start is undercut by an unexpected twist, which while unexpected, leaves a sense of emptiness. Of course, I won’t be getting into what happens here for spoiler reasons, but it will surely make a lot of viewers scratch their heads in utter bewilderment. It’s the kind of twist that feels like it only happened for shock value rather than for the purpose of telling a strong story. Yes, nobody goes to an Expendables movie for its storytelling, but there should still be some sense of competence on display.

The Bad:

Expend4bles (2023).

The narrative stumbles further as the film introduces Gina, Barney’s former lover, played by Megan Fox, and Lash, portrayed by Levy Tran, into the team. While the idea of female operatives joining The Expendables is commendable, the execution feels forced and fails to fully integrate them into the team dynamics.

Ocelot’s crazy villainous plan is a familiar action movie trope, and Expend4bles does little to offer a fresh take on it. The climax is a mishmash of gunfire, explosions, and hand-to-hand combat, which, while entertaining, lacks the creativity and finesse seen in previous films. The action sequences, though well-choreographed, often feel repetitive and uninspired. Also, the ending’s twist, while intended to be a triumphant moment, comes across as somewhat predictable and clichéd.

Overall:

Expend4bles attempts to recapture the magic of its predecessors but ultimately falls short due to a convoluted plot, underdeveloped characters, and uninspired action sequences. While it offers some nostalgic moments and entertaining moments, it lacks the heart and coherence that made the earlier films in the franchise so memorable. Fans of the series may find enough to enjoy, but newcomers are likely to be left wanting more. At the end of the day, it’s yet another Expendables movie. Let’s just hope that they finally decide to bury the hatchet here, because this fourth film is definitely a reminder of why the franchise was dead for many, many years.

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  • Acting - 5/10
    5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5/10
    5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
    4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 5/10
    5/10
  • Watchability - 5/10
    5/10
  • Rewatchability - 2/10
    2/10
Overall
4.3/10
4.3/10
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User Review
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.