Expend4bles review: Time to retire this old-fashioned nonsense

Expend4bles. (Lionsgate)
Expend4bles. (Lionsgate)
  • 🎞️ When is Expend4bles in cinemas: From Friday, 22 September

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 1/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Andy Garcia

  • 👍 What we liked: Nothing

  • 👎 What we didn't: Shaky special effects and camera work. Unexciting and dull. Even Statham can’t save it.

  • 📖 What's it about? When the world is up against it and out of options, it calls on The Expendables, a team of stop-at-nothing former soldiers. With some new and younger additions to the team, they’re charged with stopping a nuclear war between the US and Russia, while settling a personal score and unmasking a traitor.

  • ⏱️ How long is it? 1 hour 43 minutes

Remember The Expendables? It’s nearly ten years since the geriaction supergroup last lumbered onto our screens, so it’s hardly surprising if you don’t.

Sylvester Stallone’s veteran team of former special ops guys pumped out three action movies in quick succession between 2010 and 2014 and then took a sabbatical. It was the golden age of superhero movies, after all.

But now they’ve returned in Expend4bles and the squad has a new look. Familiar faces like Stallone, Statham and Lundgren are back for another literally explosive outing, this time joined by younger newbies, including Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox and Jacob Scipio.

Watch a clip from Expend4bles

But if director Scott Waugh and his writers were trying to breathe new life into the franchise by targeting a younger audience, their aim is decidedly off. The break has done nothing to revive whatever energy it once had.

Out of all of its many problems, the film commits the cardinal sin for a Friday night movie: It’s dull. For all the car chases, bodies and bullets — Waugh seems to working on a one-explosion-per-minute basis — none of it is genuinely exciting.

A few of the more gruesome killings might be greeted with exclamations, but that’s as far as it goes. It quickly becomes tediously repetitive and, given the combination of shonky special effects and below par cinematography, it’s hard to see where the $100 million budget was spent.

Jason Statham - EXPEND4BLES (Lionsgate)
Jason Statham - EXPEND4BLES (Lionsgate)

With Statham on the payroll, there’s always the possibility that some of his trademark deadpan humour will relieve the monotony. After Meg 2: The Trench, he may as well write off 2023 because not even he can save this one.

He and Stallone attempt to introduce some banter, but there’s so little chemistry between the two and the gags are so trite that they don’t even land, let alone get a chance to fall flat. Jacob Scipio has the thankless task of trying to raise a laugh as the pompous Galan — the son of Antonio Banderas’ Galgo from 2014’s previous instalment— but his efforts at echoing his dad’s intensity are so juvenile, they’re not even laughable.

Sylvester Stallone in Expend4bles. (Lionsgate)
Sylvester Stallone in Expend4bles. (Lionsgate)

What had the potential to be a good, old fashioned action movie is just old fashioned nonsense. According to the dictionary, “expendable” describes something of little significance which can be easily abandoned or destroyed.

The film takes the first half of the definition literally and, as the credits roll, you can only hope the makers will take notice of the rest of it. Sure, it’s a popcorn movie, but one that’s gone soft and chewy.

Expend4bles is in UK and Irish cinemas from 22 September.

Read more: The Expendables