Expend4bles is a serious contender for the year’s stupidest movie, and that’s not just for the awkwardly stylized title. There are so many bizarre sights in this film. Megan Fox appears to be reading from an off-camera script while delivering a monologue comprised of technical jargon. A scene inadvertently implies that Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) looks into the night sky and sees a satellite in space. The primary villain compares Christmas to genital warts twice. Our heroes escape an iron-clad room after one of them urinates on a door that magically opens. Topping it off, you get some of the worst CGI ever put into a wide-release motion picture.
The threadbare plot finds Expendables leader Barney (Sylvester Stallone) and crew on the hunt for a mysterious figure named “Ocelot” who has a plan to detonate a nuclear weapon in Russian waters. I figured out Ocelot’s identity within the first ten minutes because it’s one of the oldest cliches in the book; it takes the gang an additional 70 minutes to catch on. The team is comprised of characters played by notable cinematic action heroes from across the globe, including Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, and Iko Uwais, as well as a few actors like Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Megan Fox, whose bona fides are, shall we say, a little less solid.
All of this is a threadbare excuse to have near-constant gunplay, vehicle chases, hand-to-hand combat, and explosions. Wow, there are a lot of explosions. Stuff explodes when it doesn’t need to explode, simply because the people who made Expend4bles apparently believe that the more explosions, the better. Much of the mayhem is amateurishly staged by director Scott Waugh so that the actors’ heads are cut off, conveniently obscuring the fact that stunt people are doing the majority of the work. (Only a climactic fight between Statham and Uwais bucks that trend.) An early chase scene, meanwhile, has the stars obviously acting in front of a green screen. The effect is embarrassing.
The original Expendables coasted by on the novelty value of so many action heavy-hitters gathering together for violent mayhem. That novelty has dimmed with each successive sequel. Even most of the performers seem bored by the material. They know this is far from the best movie any of them have done, so they’re merely going through the motions. A tepid screenplay tries to toss in a romantic subplot for Statham and Fox, but we never truly care whether they repair their fractured relationship or not.
Cheap-looking and annoyingly chaotic, Expend4bles feels like the kind of thing that goes straight to VOD. Whatever is playing next door at your local multiplex is almost certainly more coherent. Go see that instead. At least you have a fighting chance of finding entertainment. None can be found anywhere here.
out of four
Expend4bles is rated R for strong/bloody violence throughout, language, and sexual material. The running time is 1 hour and 43 minutes.