The Expend4bles (2023) Review



The Expend4bles has plenty of R rated violence with Iko Uwais making for a nasty but entertaining villain and Tony Jaa another clear highlight. I wanted to give Megan Fox a chance but there is no reason for her to be in this movie and she adds nothing to it. Jason Statham takes over as the lead and does a decent job but this was always Stallone’s baby, so with him in a smaller role and no Arnie it has a bit of a straight to video feel about it which is where I see potential future entries heading.

Plot: A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Review: Reactions to the fourth entry in The Expendables franchise have been generally lukewarm so far, but I’ve still been looking forward to it mostly due to the additions of Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais to the cast. Before the movie even came out many were complaining at the lack of classic action stars which is a valid criticism; we really should have had people like Michael Dudikoff, Carl Weathers, Jeff Wincott, Jackie Chan, Daniel Bernhardt or Cynthia Rothrock by now, so even after 4 movies you can’t help but feel this franchise hasn’t quite lived up to its potential despite being a lot of fun.

The whole point of The Expendables was to bring together the old-school action stars but Expend4bles (it gives me anxiety writing that) barely has any. Megan Fox is an awful addition and we’re never given any reason to like or care about her in any way. 50 Cent does the best he can but makes little impact although I did enjoy Jacob Scipio as Galan even if at times he was a little annoying.

Sly Stallone takes a back seat this time leaving Jason Statham to take over as the lead; he’s up for the task and has the charisma but the best parts of the first two films was the banter between the pair, so having less Stallone was never a good idea.

Dolph Lundgren has a few fun moments and provides some laughs; Randy Couture is always reliable but the script (such as it is) relies too much on dick jokes and is arguably the worst of the franchise. Amazing dialogue was never The Expendables strong point but it’s really bad here aside from a couple of one-liners.

This doesn’t feel like part of the franchise due to the lack of the rest of the cast; even the maligned third movie at least had Arnie, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Terry Crews and Wesley Snipes. I found myself really missing them in this movie and nearly everything about it feels lackluster and dare I say it, cheap.

This entry at least wears its R rating proudly with plenty of violent kills and swearing but there is very little action that’s memorable. There is some pathetic greenscreen at times which really takes you out of it and the action never matches the scale of the first two movies. The harbour bombing sequence from the original is still maybe my favourite of the franchise but there isn’t anything to even come close to it here.

On the plus side Tony Jaa shines in his role as an ex-Expendable trying to live a peaceful life but comes back for a mission of revenge. Iko Uwais has arguably his best English language role to date and makes for a nasty piece of work although his climactic fight with Statham was underwhelming.

The story is predictable with any twists you can see coming from a mile off, so there are no major surprises; it is at least well paced and certainly never boring with a brisk runtime of an hour and 40 minutes which is to be commended.

I may be too harsh on it as the film is just trying to be nothing but harmless fun and that’s exactly what it is, but it’s just frustrating to me that it seems so hard for them to get the formula right.

Brian Tyler is sadly replaced as the music composer this time, so we didn’t even get The Expendables theme tune either; that’s like a Rambo movie without his theme.

Overall, The Expend4bles has its moments with Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais the clear highlights but the script is terrible and a lot of the action looks cheap with very little that you’ll remember after viewing. If we do get another entry (which is looking doubtful) then please bring on actual action stars and take the franchise back to its roots.