Wow, that’s a lot of “Fs,” just like there are lots of “Fs” (unnecessary F-bombs) in the fourth Expendables film (presented as Expend4bles). This one, sadly, should bury the once-popular franchise, which bombed big-time at the box office, got the lowest score of the series on Rotten Tomatoes, and the poorest grade from audiences.
BEATING A DEAD HORSE
The first three Expendables movies are among my favorites. I wrote about them in one of my “Blowing Shit Up” posts. They starred Sylvester Stallone, who played a big part in their creation, given that he played the main character, Barney Ross, an aging mercenary leader whose squad was also long in tooth. (That, of course, appealed to this old guy.) His squad was composed of other aging action heroes that included Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren, and athletes such as Terry Crews and Randy Couture. There were also cameos, both long and short, from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Bruce Willis, and Antonio Banderas, among others. Even the villains were aging action stars, among them Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mel Gibson.
I need to call an early spoiler alert here for a plot point that is revealed near the start of Expend4bles. If you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, I’d stop reading here.
Okay, so why did Expend4bles suck? To begin with, the first three films came two years apart, from 2010-2014. That means nine years had passed before they finally came up with a fourth one, which aged the surviving participants even more. Besides Stallone and Statham, only Couture and Lundgren remained from the original team.
And, horror of horrors, Barney Ross is apparently killed in the first reel! How can that be? Stallone WAS the Expendables. I guess we should have heeded the first clue: Jason Statham got top billing in the opening credits, and the film was essentially a vehicle for him.
The plot was typical: terrorist bad guys possessing nuclear weapons with plans to launch World War III and profit from it. Shit is still blowing up, and the body count is enormous. Ho-hum. The one-liners about aging, among other things, are absent from this film, and the fun banter between Barney and Lee Christmas (Statham), is minimal, and seems forced. And to paraphrase George Gershwin regarding the aforementioned bombardment of F-bombs: they ain’t necessarily so.
The Expendables 3 was not nearly as big a box office hit as its two predecessors, so the fact that Expend4bles even got done was a surprise. Let’s hope the franchise has reached THE END.