Expend4bles – Review

Worth seeing: for a handful of cheap laughs in an action drama that's part predictable, part preposterous and all derivative
Director:Scott Waugh
Featuring:Jason Statham, Megan Fox, Sylvester Stallone, 50 Cent, Andy Garcia, Curtis Jackson, Dolph Lundgren, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Randy Couture, Tony Jaa
Length:103 minutes
Released:22nd September 2023


When a highly armed group of terrorists attack a Libyan army base and steal a case full of nuclear bomb detonators, the Expendables – a group of ex-military mercenaries – are sent in to stop them.

The operation doesn’t go to plan, after Christmas (Jason Statham) ignores orders and puts a comrade’s safety ahead of the mission.

The detonators are now in the hands of a ruthless arms dealer known as Ocelot, and the CIA fears he could explode bombs in Russian waters, sparking a new World War. But the US can’t be seen to be involved, so they send the Expendables back in – to retrieve the detonators and avenge their losses from the previous mission.

Christmas, though, is left behind – kicked out of the organisation for disobeying orders at such a crucial time.

But he won’t take rejection lightly – he sets off on his own – and follows the team to Thailand – determined to win back the trust of his comrades and help them prevent a World War.


From the basic concept to its execution, Expendables 4 – or EXPEND4BLES, as it’s styled – is as tired and derivative as its numerical appendage suggests.

Stealing nuclear detonators. The threat of a World War. Moles in the organisation. Lego sets are less predictable in their assembly.

Almost without fail, the narrative threads – whether character building or plot developing – fall flat. When we first catch-up with two of our franchise protagonists, Sylvester Stallone’s Barney and Jason Statham’s Christmas, they’re returning to a bar where Barney recently lost a beloved ring in a bet; it has to be said that the fate of the man who won the ring, fairly and squarely, does not endear us to our heroes. The dismissive way that he’s dealt with during the course of the film is peculiarly hateful.

A couple of the newer characters simply don’t fit in with the original premise of the franchise – that pulled together some of the biggest action heroes of Hollywood’s recent past; now, those who remain are joined by youngsters who were probably still at primary school when their co-stars first banded together to save the world – in some cases, they could almost be the grandchildren of their co-stars.

There are a couple of big twists that make you reassess what you’ve been watching – and in one of the cases, you might conclude that almost nothing that has happened would possibly have unfolded that way.

Perhaps the oddest mis-step is that so many of the special effects look like they could’ve been done better on a smart-phone, making this star-studded, big-budget blockbuster feel a little less robust than an episode of Dr Who.

There are some humorous moments, although even some of those are disappointingly puerile.

If you have the capacity to turn your brain off and forget about every other action film you’ve ever seen, you might enjoy a few moments here and there, but if you’ve seen any other action film since the 1970s, you’ll have seen it all before – and better.