It’s been nearly a decade since we’ve seen Sylvester Stallone’s team of elite mercenaries known as The Expendables take on one of its explosive missions, but now he and Jason Statham are back, and they've added some new names to the roster for Expend4bles. The third sequel, formerly titled The Expendables 4, has seen a number of delays over the years after 2014’s PG-13-rated The Expendables 3 was panned by critics. The fourth installment has returned to original form with an R rating, and those who have been able to attend advance screenings of the movie are hitting social media with their first reactions. Although opinions are somewhat split, moviegoers seem to feel very strongly.
Alongside Sly Stallone and Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture reprise their roles, and the franchise welcomes Megan Fox, Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent), Andy Garcia and more as newcomers. Former stuntman Scott Waugh takes the helm for Expend4bles, which will see the group attempt to prevent a terrorist organization from smuggling nuclear warheads. We’re expecting some big action and some sexy fight scenes involving Fox and Statham, so let’s see what people think. Eric Eisenberg of CinemaBlend doesn’t pull punches, describing the fourth movie as an “embarrassment for all involved.” In his words:
Ever wonder what the rock bottom nadir of a franchise looks like? Prepare to be stunned by the awfulness of Expend4bles. It has the aesthetics of a 1995 Direct-To-Video movie, and simply describing story/plot developments sounds like mockery. An embarrassment for all involved.
Nick of Bitesize Breakdown agrees that the franchise is headed in the wrong direction, with the fourth movie being the weakest offering yet. He writes:
Expend4bles loses everything that was enjoyable about the series to create its weakest entry yet. The lack of star power and humour shows that this franchise is headed in the wrong direction.
Adriano Caporusso also says The Expendables 4 is bad, but not so-bad-it’s-good. While the movie celebrates its R-rating, there’s not nearly enough fun being had. Caporusso continues:
Expend4bles revels in the return of its R-rating, but its obvious twists and dumb (not in a fun way) plot, combined with the shift in focus on Jason Statham, makes this a borderline dull film with not nearly enough fun to be had to forgive any of its flaws.
Ian Sandwell of Digital Spy tweets that he also noticed a lack of fun, particularly in the first hour. After that, though, the movie picks up and plays more to its strengths, of which Jason Statham is a big part. According to the critic:
Expend4bles has a turgid first hour, before the strong final act remembers that the series works best when it's having fun – and when Jason Statham is being as Cockney as possible. It's hard to hate a movie where ‘sneaky little sausage’ is genuine dialogue.
Some early viewers clearly aren’t satisfied with Scott Waugh’s final product, but the reactions certainly aren’t all bad. Jeremy Kazieva tweets that the movie reminds him of The Suicide Squad and any fans of the Call of Duty: Black Ops video games will find something to like here. He continues:
Holy Sh*t! If you’ve ever played COD: Black Ops, you will LOVE Expendables 4! The whole cast is incredible, Stallone and Stathom’s relationship is awesome and the Co. remind you of The Suicide Squad in some way. Perfect mix of combat, gory and a dash of humor. AMAZING.
Film critic Rama’s Screen seems to have had no trouble finding the fun in the film, embracing the “nonsensical” aspect of it all, tweeting:
EXPEND4BLES was crazy nonsensical fun! It packed a punch! Back to good ol' rock 'em sock 'em gritty hard-R explosive action that was wildly entertaining. Much of that is thanks to my fellow Indonesian Iko Uwais who did a smashing job as the villain.
With some saying Expend4bles has hit rock bottom with its no-fun fourth installment and others saying the gory combat mixed with humor is the right combination, it’s hard to know what to think. We might gain some clarity when full reviews come out, but there isn't much time left before the movie hits theaters on Friday, September 22. Whether or not you decide to check out Megan Fox, Jason Statham, 50 Cent and the rest, take a peek at our 2023 Movie Release Calendar to see what else is hitting the big screen soon.