A bad guy is stealing nuclear detonators. He’s going to combine them with highly enriched fissile material. It could lead to World War III.
That’s bad. But the really terrible thing this guy named Suarto Rahmat has done is kill a member of the Expendables team. That can’t stand! At least, that’s how Lee Christmas sees it.
Hey, the Expendables may be nothing more than a team of former military misfits and Special Forces rejects. They may be mercenaries who go for the highest dollar. And sure, they’re cast offs whom no one cares for.
But to one another, they’re family. And when you mess with family … well, that’s, that’s bad!
Problem is, Christmas has been kicked out of the family. He’s become … expendable. Why? ‘Cause he tried to save someone’s life rather than finish his assigned mission. And the whole operation then went sideways. So now the new Expendables, led by Christmas’ girlfriend Gina, are off on Rahmat’s trail without him.
But Christmas isn’t one to give up. He’ll track and trail his old team. He’ll find his way to Rahmat, too. And then the tough as nails Lee Christmas will take care of business.
Yep, you could say that Christmas is gonna find a little peace on Earth.
The hard way.
The Expendables team members do all put their lives on the line for each other. And when one of their number is badly wounded, they rally around him and fight to get him to safety. And one is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, if necessary, to save others.
You could argue that the film has a (very) light warning for viewers about the dangers of living a life of violence. Christmas meets a guy named Decha who made a choice to step away from his violent past. “With every person you kill, you lose a little more of yourself,” he tells Christmas. (But Decha ultimately turns back to those violent ways.)
Female dancers at a bar and bikini girls at a pool party are all dressed in similarly skimpy outfits that bare lots of flesh, including mostly bare backsides. (An online influencer who hosts the pool party makes some crude comments about the women’s bodies and the sexual activity he expects from them.)
Gina wears some formfitting outfits that feel the most revealing of the lot. That wardrobe includes a nearly see-through tank top that the camera focuses on.
We see a sex toy. Conversations between characters detail various sexual experiences. Christmas and Gina begin to fight, and it turns into a sexual battle that leads to just offscreen oral sex. We then see the barely clothed pair sprawled out in bed after the fact.
Someone is jokingly compared to a genital wart.
Expend4bles may be considered an action movie. But in truth, this flick tends to focus sneeringly at entertaining its audience with harsh, bloody violence. And we see that brutality delivered in a variety of levels.
Massive missile strikes and explosions rip up the scenery, destroying military trucks, a chemical plant, a helicopter and a large plane. There’s even a full nuclear explosion at one point that obliterates a ship and raises a destructive mushroom cloud.
Other deadliness comes in the form of gruesome kills where bodies and heads explode on contact after a huge fall or when hung out of a speeding vehicle. Some of the above-mentioned explosions leave individuals in a pool of blood with torn bodies and severed limbs.
Scores of combatants are stabbed, impaled, slashed, and shot with spurting gore. Gun battles spray goo on the walls and floors. Men are repeatedly stabbed in and through their necks and chests. A man’s wife is battered and bloody, and he’s shot in front of his young son. Several people are shot in the face.
Speeding cars drive over fallen people. A victim of a fiery plane crash is discovered, crisped and smoking with charred flesh and exposed bone. Finally, up-close melee battles feature martial arts battering, snapped bones and necks as well as sliced-open wounds.
More than 30 f-words and a dozen s-words riddle the dialogue mix. Other profanity includes multiple uses of the words “h—,” “d–n,” “a–,” “a–hole” and “b–ch.”
God’s name is misused once. And there are a couple crude references to male genitalia. A desiccated arm and hand are positioned in an offensive hand gesture.
Beer and hard alcohol flow in several scenes here. Bar patrons drink heavily, as do people at a pool party and other gatherings. Some of the central characters toss back shot after shot of hard liquor.
One of the Expendables, Gunner, is an alcoholic who’s making an effort to stay sober. But in the end, he guzzles a flask of booze in an attempt to regain his ability to shoot straight. “Good to be back,” he sighs happily after getting buzzed once more.
Cigarettes and cigars are lit and puffed on numerous occasions by a handful of different people. Christmas talks about his stress levels, and Barney Ross tells him to take Xanax.
In an effort to escape a locked room, someone urinates on a ship bilge door. Several people watch him closely. Jokes are then made about the urine and its smell.
Back in 2010 when the first Expendables movie was released, the idea was simple and straightforward. What if you pulled together a group of aging action hero actors and sent them out on the same hard-hitting, problem-solving team? You know, gather up Stallone, Norris, Willis, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and the like, and have them needle each other while they knife the bad guys. It’ll be about heroism, comradery and, uh, winking quips.
Quirky and cute, right?
Of course, the movies weren’t cute. They weren’t much more than a blend of ‘roid rage bloodiness and campy dialogue laced with sexual gags. The third film in the series even dabbled with making the action a bit more family friendly and PG-13 worthy. But that idea was quickly discarded.
Now, 13 years later, most of the original elderly actioners have grabbed their state-of-the art walkers and canes and shuffled off to greener pastures. What we’re left with is a second-rate cast, hard-R carnage and a really bad script.
The only recognizable star worth watching and (kinda) suspending your disbelief for in this outing is Jason Statham. He at least looks like he’s doing more than mailing it in. But that’s faint praise considering the film’s litany of aesthetic and content problems.
Frankly, Expend4bles is simply a Hollywood cash grab. It’s a surreally awful film packed with splatter-that-noggin, stab-through-that-Adam’s-apple gore paired with vulgar, empty dialogue.
There ain’t a good, believable, or quirky-cute idea in any of it.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.