‘Expend4bles’ Review: Airhead Band | ET REALITY


The tone of “Expend4bles” can be summed up in a single close-up: the severed hand of a corpse flipping over the bird. For its director, Scott Waugh, and all those responsible for resurrecting this dormant action franchise, the middle finger points to the style planned for this fourth installment: macho, smiling and defiant. At its best, the film is all three. This all-star mercenary squad of ’80s and ’00s brutes is the cinematic equivalent of Slash’s Snakepit, a supergroup throwback to a time when men were dumb and we, the audience, gleefully applauded them.

I admit I still did, at least for part of this boastful stupidity. Why resist the impossible physics of Curtis Jackson (better known as 50 Cent) slamming a bad guy’s body back and forth like a toddler throwing a tantrum with his doll? Or Dolph Lundgren lampooning his aging vision by screwing a prescription lens onto his sniper rifle? Or Sylvester Stallone complaining about a wrestling thumb injury that he chose to nurse with a little custom leather sling? Or Jason Statham, the comically talented bully now promoted to series lead, who does, well, pretty much anything?

In an even earlier era, Statham’s agile skills would have given him a career like Jimmy Cagney’s. But he’s stuck working on ours, with a script that offers some funny gags (he calls an enemy “a sneaky little sausage”) but mostly lets him down. Screenwriters Kurt Wimmer, Tad Daggerhart and Max Adams seem to share a mutual disinterest in the plot, intoning the words “detonator” and “World War III” until the threats fade into static in the background.

These antics would be funnier if the actors didn’t seem so unflappable. Nothing breaks her composure. No explosions or blood spatters, no beheadings or nuclear bombs, not even the sight of a warship capsizing in the Sea of ​​Japan. (Maybe because everything above has been rendered cheaply in the post.) Even a seduction scene with backflips and insults between Statham and a new teammate, played by Megan Fox, climaxes without a smear of lip gloss. It’s just one more artificial palpitation.

Energy crackles in throwaway gags, like when Jacob Scipio, as a motor-mouthed young Expendable, drinks a cocktail with a pink umbrella at a wake. There’s an absurdly funny detour with a lewd Internet influencer (Samuel Black) and a shootout interrupted by a stereo blasting 50 Cent’s “PIMP,” which is just absurd. Is Jackson the rapper in the same universe as Jackson the killer? Is he dedicated to killing?

Andy Garcia, Randy Couture, Levy Tran and the great martial artist Tony Jaa round out our cast of protagonists, while Iko Uwais heads up a generic goon squad, giving all the intensity he can to a villain written with no identifiable features other than a scar. When things get boring, there’s always Lundgren in the background, playing off his character’s short-sightedness with the kooky charm of Marilyn Monroe. But the last reel of the film is so awful—so dismissively dismissive of our good-faith efforts to play along with these shenanigans—that we leave the theater still thinking about that middle finger. It sure seemed aimed at us.

Rated R for extravagantly digitized cursing and killing. Duration: 1 hour 43 minutes. On cinemas.

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