The Expendables 4 Review: Action's Last Stand or Next Big Thing?

If you're a fan of old-school action heroes, this franchise has likely been on your radar since its inception. But before we dive into the latest installment, let's take a closer look at why "The Expendables" franchise finds itself in a bit of a crisis.

Expendables: A Franchise in Crisis

Once upon a time, "The Expendables" were the epitome of action cinema nostalgia, bringing together iconic figures like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis to relive their glory days of on-screen mayhem. For fans who grew up in the '80s and '90s, these films were a dream come true.

However, as the series progressed, it faced a conundrum – how to keep the magic alive when the pool of classic action stars was dwindling? With each new installment, the formula became less about bringing together legendary heroes and more about incorporating younger, less established actors into the mix.

A Still from the upcoming movie EXPEND4BLES (2023)
Image Source: Lionsgate Pictures

"The Expendables 4" continues this trend, introducing us to new faces like Megan Fox, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Tony Jaa, and Iko Uwais. While these actors undoubtedly have their own unique talents, they don't quite fit the mold of the action legends we've come to associate with the franchise.

The inclusion of new, albeit talented, actors raised eyebrows. Fans wondered if the essence of the franchise was being diluted by these newer faces, who didn't quite fit the mold of the legendary action heroes of yesteryears.

Can these new additions hold their own alongside the titans of action cinema? While actors like Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais have undeniable martial arts capabilities, do they resonate with the same nostalgia that the franchise initially aimed to capture?

This raises a bigger fundamental question: Who is the target audience for this movie? Is it the loyal fans who grew up watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger, or is it a younger generation less interested in the nostalgia of the '80s and '90s action era? This identity crisis has left the franchise in a precarious position.

However, as the years went by, the landscape of action cinema shifted. The rise of newer action stars like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Keanu Reeves, and the cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought in a younger generation of action enthusiasts.

Moreover, the absence of some iconic action stars, who were still very much relevant back in the early 2000s, has left fans wondering what could have been. Names like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and Wesley Snipes were ripe for inclusion in the series during their career lulls, but those opportunities were missed.

"The Expendables" finds itself at a crossroads. The formula that once thrilled audiences now seems exhausted, with the franchise struggling to adapt to the changing landscape of action cinema where action films now rely heavily on CGI spectacle and superhero narratives. While the prospect of a reboot with fresh faces might be the way forward, it's undeniable that "The Expendables 4" is a testament to a franchise grappling with its own identity and its place in the hearts of action movie enthusiasts.

The Expendables' Past and Future: Could a Reboot Save the Franchise?

From its explosive debut to the divisive casting choices in its later installments, "The Expendables" has had quite the ride.

But what lies ahead for this iconic series? Could a reboot be the lifeline it needs to stay afloat? The decline of iconic action stars, like Stallone and Schwarzenegger, has certainly cast a shadow over the franchise's future.

Once upon a time, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis ruled the action genre. Their bulging biceps and witty one-liners were the stuff of legend. However, time spares no one, not even action heroes. The inevitable march of years has seen these titans of the silver screen gradually step out of the limelight.

As they age, the physical demands of action roles become more challenging. Stallone himself has acknowledged that he can't keep up the same punishing pace as in his youth. This poses a significant hurdle for a franchise built on the charisma and physicality of its stars.

"The Expendables" franchise was a dream come true for action enthusiasts, uniting the biggest stars of the past. But what if it had been created a couple of decades earlier? Imagine a world where Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, and Chuck Norris joined forces alongside Stallone and Schwarzenegger. It's a tantalizing thought, and one that could have propelled the franchise to even greater heights.

The Missed Opportunities of the Early 2000s

While "The Expendables" finally became a reality in the 2010s, it's worth noting that the concept was floated around as early as the 2000s. Back then, the action genre was experiencing a resurgence, with films like "Die Hard" and "The Bourne Identity" captivating audiences.

The early 2000s could have been the perfect time for a multi-star action extravaganza. However, the stars didn't align, and it took another decade for Stallone to assemble his team of mercenaries. This delay may have cost the franchise some of its potential momentum.

Megan Fox: A Misfit in Action

Megan Fox, while undoubtedly a talented actress, found herself in unfamiliar territory when she joined the cast of "The Expendables" franchise. Her addition left fans wondering if she was the right fit for this testosterone-fueled ensemble.

Megan Fox rose to fame as the sultry star of the "Transformers" series. Her portrayal of Mikaela Banes won her legions of fans and cemented her status as a hot symbol. However, her career trajectory took an unexpected turn when she stepped into the realm of action heroes.

While Fox's transition from the "Transformers" franchise to "The Expendables" was a bold move, it was met with mixed reviews. Some praised her for taking on a new challenge, while others questioned whether she could match the intensity of her co-stars.

Fox's character in "The Expendables," Gina, added a layer of complexity to the franchise. She was a skilled combatant, unafraid to dive headfirst into the chaos that defines the series. However, her role also raised questions about the franchise's direction and whether it was trying to appeal to a broader audience.

Inconsistent Leadership: The Unexpected Leadership Change

One of the most unexpected twists in "The Expendables 4" was the leadership change that occurred within the team. Sylvester Stallone's character, Barney Ross, has always been the charismatic leader of the mercenaries. Yet, in this installment, we witness an abrupt shift in leadership dynamics, which left fans scratching their heads.

This sudden change in leadership not only affected the overall coherence of the story but also left viewers wondering about the creative direction of the franchise.

The Jarring Tone of Key Scenes

Action movies often strike a balance between intense combat sequences and moments of levity. However, in "The Expendables 4," some key scenes felt jarringly out of place. The abrupt shifts in tone from gritty action to comedic one-liners left audiences somewhat disoriented.

While humor has always been a part of the franchise's charm, the execution of these moments in the latest installment felt less seamless than in previous films.

Critical and Audience Reception

Let's delve into the world of critical and audience reception, where "The Expendables 4" faced a whirlwind of opinions and emotions.

Mixed Reviews: Critics' Consensus

Critics' opinions ranged from adoration to bewilderment, reflecting the eclectic mix of action legends and fresh faces on the screen.

Some critics praised the film for its commitment to the action genre, appreciating the nostalgia it brought with its ensemble cast of iconic stars. They saw it as a love letter to the '80s and '90s action era, embracing its over-the-top explosions and testosterone-fueled battles.

Conversely, others found themselves less enamored with the movie. They questioned whether the franchise was running out of steam and whether the inclusion of newer stars like Megan Fox disrupted the established formula. Some critics even raised concerns about the coherence of the plot and character development.

Metacritic, the renowned aggregator of critical reviews, reflected this polarized sentiment. "The Expendables 4" found itself perched on a seesaw, with critics' scores swinging between high praise and hesitant reservation. The Metascore told a tale of a movie that elicited strong reactions from those who watched it.

Audiences, too, had their say, and their opinions often diverged from those of the critics. Some viewers relished the nostalgia trip and the chance to see their favorite action stars back in action. To them, "The Expendables 4" was a rollicking good time, filled with explosive set pieces and memorable one-liners.

However, not everyone in the audience was equally enthused. Some moviegoers felt that the franchise was struggling to find its footing, especially with the introduction of new characters and shifts in leadership dynamics. They longed for the simplicity and cohesion of the earlier films in the series.

"The Expendables 4" became a cinematic battleground of opinions, where fans of the franchise clashed with those looking for something new. It's clear that this film, with its iconic cast and bold choices, left no one indifferent.


As we wrap up our journey through "The Expendables 4," it's time to roll up our sleeves and dissect the film's intricate facets.

Dissecting the Flawed Storyline

Let's start with the storyline, the backbone of any great action film. In "The Expendables 4," the narrative appears to take a backseat to the spectacle of explosions and fisticuffs. While die-hard fans might argue that a convoluted plot isn't why they came to see this movie, others found themselves yearning for a more engaging storyline.

The film's plot, at times, feels like a mere excuse to assemble these legendary action heroes, leaving much to be desired in terms of depth and complexity.

Action and Performances: Comparing Sequences

One aspect where "The Expendables 4" undoubtedly shines is in its action sequences. It's an extravaganza of bullets, brawls, and explosions, which, for some, harks back to the golden age of action cinema. The stunts are heart-pounding, and the combat scenes are adrenaline-fueled spectacles. But it's essential to remember that what worked in the '80s and '90s might not hold the same appeal today. The film's approach to action feels like a throwback, and whether that's a strength or a weakness depends on your perspective.

Performance-wise, the cast is an intriguing blend of old-school charisma and contemporary star power. Stallone, Statham, and the gang deliver what fans expect—grit, humor, and one-liners.

Technical Aspects: Cinematography and Effects

From a technical standpoint, "The Expendables 4" boasts high-octane cinematography and explosive special effects. The visual spectacle is undeniable, and the team behind the camera deserves kudos for delivering on the action front.

The explosions are bigger, the choreography more elaborate, and the stakes higher than ever. It's a visual feast that action aficionados will relish.

Writing and Dialogue: Memorable Lines

In the realm of dialogue, "The Expendables 4" doesn't disappoint. The script is packed with memorable one-liners, a hallmark of the franchise.

Fans of the series will find plenty of quotable moments to savor. These lines, delivered with gusto by the ensemble cast, are a reminder of the franchise's enduring appeal.

The Expendables 4: A Wasted Opportunity

In retrospect, "The Expendables 4" feels like a missed opportunity. It had the potential to reinvent the franchise, perhaps by reimagining the classic action hero formula or introducing more innovative storytelling. Instead, it treads familiar ground, relying heavily on nostalgia.

The Franchise's Future Prospects

As we conclude our exploration of "The Expendables 4," the big question looms: what's next for this beloved yet beleaguered franchise? The future prospects are uncertain. Will it continue to rely on the charisma of its aging action stars, or will it pivot to embrace a new generation of performers and storytelling? Only time will tell.

In the end, "The Expendables 4" is a paradox. It's a film that simultaneously celebrates the past and struggles to find its place in the present. For fans, it's a nostalgic romp with familiar faces. For others, it's a reminder that the action genre has evolved, and what once worked may need a fresh coat of paint.

The Expendables 4 Review Action's Last Stand or Next Big Thing

Author: Richie Davis

Author/Writer - Richie Davis

Introducing Richie Davis! Armed with a Bachelor's in Journalism, Richie's career journey has been a reel adventure. From editing videos to crafting compelling narratives, he's now our go-to guru for all things cinematic. When he's not busy diving into the deep end of Movie mysteries, you'll find him swimming through the latest releases or binge watching TV Shows, dissecting flicks like a true Entertainment detective.

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