Nearly a decade after the third installment in the franchise, one might have assumed The Expendables had gone the way of the dinosaur, which would’ve been somewhat poetic considering many of the series mainstays are practically fossils themselves. But in defiance of reason, logic, and (most assuredly) audience desire, Expend4bles (yes, that’s the actual title) finds Sylvester Stallone’s team of past-their-prime action stars back for another mission.
Well, sort of; Stallone’s screen time is significantly reduced here, while Gunner (Dolph Lundgren, in one of the most hilariously terrible wigs of all time) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) return with little more to do than crack jokes about the latter’s cauliflower ear, a recurring “gag” that’s painfully unfunny the first time and gets increasingly worse every time another character mentions it. The only character with something remotely resembling an arc is Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), removed from duty after disobeying a direct order from the team’s CIA handler (Andy Garcia), who turns over the reigns to Lee’s girlfriend, Gina (Megan Fox).
Leading a newer, younger roster that includes the likes of Easy Day (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), Galan (Jacop Scipio), and Lash (Lacy Tran), Fox yawns her way through exposition delivered with all the aplomb of a subpar video game voice actor — wait, that was also Megan Fox — as The Expendables try to take down a terrorist played by The Raid‘s Iko Uwais. With Tony Jaa also making an appearance, action fans would rightfully expect a martial arts showdown of epic proportions between these titans of action cinema, but instead director Scott Waugh throws up a giant middle finger by flat-out refusing to take advantage of their skills.
Instead, audiences can expect 90-ish minutes of ho-hum action bolstered by CGI gunfire, blood and backgrounds, very little of which would be convincing enough for a mid-range PlayStation title, let alone a “blockbuster” with a reported budget of $100 million. Anyone who believed the series couldn’t get worse than its abysmal third entry is in for quite a surprise here, because Expend4bles is an embarrassment — or at least it would be, if anyone involved actually seemed like they gave a shit.