When a mission is too impossible for stunts alone, you call in The Expendables! Lionsgate has released a trailer for Expendables 4, which is officially titled Expend4bles because movies are named by twelve-year-olds now (See the Fast and Furious series and its inexplicable title scheme). Expend4bles comes nine years after Expendables 3 and finds the noble mercenary team saddling up to retrieve stolen nuclear weapons. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture return from the previous Expendables movies, with Megan Fox, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Tony Jaa, and Andy Garcia joining them as either new Expendables or allies (I think; Jaa’s role is unconfirmed), and The Raid’s Iko Uwais as the villain. Scott Waugh is taking over as director this time, with Kurt Wimmer, Tad Daggerhart, and Max Adams scripting. Expend4bles hits theaters on September 22, 2023, and you can see the new trailer below:
That trailer is great because it sells Expend4bles as exactly what an Expendables movie is supposed to be: an action flick for men who like old-school action flicks. There’s violence, sex, tough guys, gorgeous women, and the promise of two hours of manly fun. These movies are like diamonds in the rough nowadays, not necessarily in terms of quality (though I love them – the first two, anyway) but in giving the audience something they’re being denied by the mainstream. The first forty seconds of the trailer are Jason Statham and Megan Fox having sex; that kind of thing has been all but outlawed in Hollywood now, and that gives the movie an air of playing by its own rules. While “James Bond” (and I use the name loosely) is getting shot down by all the women in his latest movie, Jason Statham is rolling in the hay with a sex bomb half his age. Between this and No Hard Feelings, the R-rated sex comedy coming out later this month, it feels like a fun-loving backlash is brewing against the tight-assed cultural gatekeepers, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
And I’m glad an Expendables movie is part of it, especially one that looks like it’s bringing the series back on track. I wish there were some more of the older guard here, like Arnold or Wesley Snipes (the latter of whom was wasted on that lousy third entry, as was Mel Gibson as the villain), and I’ve been hoping for Kurt Russell to be lured in at some point. (My daydream scenario is for Russell to get a call, with Stallone saying, “Tango?” and Russell responding, “Cash.”) But there was a good effort on Stallone’s part to get some stars involved, like Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Hulk Hogan, Jack Nicholson(!), and Clint Eastwood(!!!!), but none of them panned out. It’s a bummer, but as long as the crew they’ve got is better than that milquetoast team of newbies from the third one, I’m good. I’m also beyond relieved that the third film’s director, Patrick Hughes, dropped out in favor of Scott Waugh. I’ve never seen anything Waugh has made, so he could be terrible for all I know, but Expendables 3 looked awful, with some of the choppiest action sequences I’ve ever seen; the camera cut away as soon as bullets were about to hit or an explosion was about to take out a bad guy, resulting in a clip show of suggestions rather than the action extravaganza an Expendables movie should be. In fairness to Hughes, part of that is likely due to the boneheaded decision to make Expendables 3 a sanitized PG-13 movie, but Stallone quickly assured us that wouldn’t be the case this time, so seeing Staham with those knives is a promise rather than a tease.
Also a promise is a handing off of franchise stewardship, as Sylvester Stallone is stepping back after Expend4bles, and Jason Statham is taking over as the new lead. It’s a shame because I love Stallone, in general and in the Expendables movies; this was his baby, a dream of uniting classic action stars for massive movie events. But I do love Statham, and after his last pair of duds, I want to see him in something great. Statham is even producing the movies now, really taking ownership as Sly had in the past. (I wonder if Megan Fox was teased to Statham as one of the fringe benefits.) Unsurprisingly, the trailer is chock full of Statham, and that’s fine with me. I have no doubt the others will all get a chance to shine, too, though, and I’m particularly anticipating Dolph Lundgren getting to use that sniper rifle. I’m not sure if I’ve seen 50 Cent act before, but based on his small presence in the trailer, he seems cool. I’m all set for this movie.