Expend4bles review – agonisingly creaky mercenaries sequel

<span>Photograph: AP</span>
Photograph: AP

Watching the cast of Expend4bles, the latest instalment of the thunderously dumb veteran mercenary franchise, sweating and straining their way through the “casual banter” section of the screenplay is like watching contestants on The World’s Strongest Man attempting to climb a ladder while carrying a tractor tyre. It’s painful. Which is presumably why the film-makers prudently lock most of the main characters in a metal holding cell for an extended period and just let Jason Statham loose on the picture with his knives and his repertoire of quizzically raised eyebrows.

One of the few original cast members who looks like a movie star, rather than an Easter Island sculpture of a movie star, Statham has the added bonus of being able to more or less convincingly hold his own in a combat sequence against Thai martial arts great Tony Jaa. Fight fans will also relish an extravagantly stabby cameo from Indonesian master Iko Uwais. It’s almost enough to distract from a “stolen nuclear weapon” plot device that is creakier than a botched hip replacement.