Nobody is expendable in The Expend4bles as most actors return to save the world once again and bring some new faces to the screen. It's a fun '80s action flick complete with popcorn this fourth time around, but the pacing and visual effects are less than desired. The 4K picture looks great and the Dolby Atmos mix sounds wonderful. The bonus features are worth watching too, even if they are on the short side. Recommended!
The action heroes are back for a fourth journey where they must team up again and save the planet from a nefarious bad guy who is hell-bent on starting World War III. The previous three installments which started out in 2010 were released every two years but due to the unsuccessful box office of part III, this fourth film, The Expend4bles took a whopping nine years to show its face. Are the masses tired of these films, showcasing those '80s action set pieces with their once-favorite stars headlining? That may be the case, but one thing is for sure, this fourth film just feels lazy despite the great performances and fun action sequences.
Each of the original three The Expendables films has cost an average of $100 million, revealing these are no low-budget action movies. Each film grossed hundreds of millions at the global box office, furthering the notion that this is a lucrative franchise. So why did this fourth film only make a measly $50 million worldwide? It's probably the fact that Sylvester Stallone, who helmed the first film and has cemented his role in each film as the leader is barely in this fourth movie. Adding insult to injury here, the 2nd in command Jason Statham doesn't get to show off his impressive action moments until far too late into the movie. Going even further, the visual effects are extremely laughable, which is strange because the year is 2023 and this film cost $100 million. An educated guess would be that most of the money went to securing talent for a fourth time, leaving very little money left over to produce computer CGI effects rather than having fun with practical gore that etched most of these action stars' careers.
That all being said, The Expend4bles is a popcorn flick with tons of fun and new faces to enjoy that look to be headed in a new direction. The team led by Stallone, Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture is out to stop an unknown villain who has multiple nuclear warheads. They all figure out that this evil genius plans to ignite World War III by framing the United States. Megan Fox steps up to the plate who is dynamite and as her career has shown lately, is a fantastic actress who is up for genre movies of all kinds. Perhaps the most exciting newcomers but are massively underused are Tony Jaa of Ong Bak fame and Iko Uwais from The Raid films. These two men are the best in the business, but in order to give everyone their time to shine, these two are left on the back burner for most of the film.
This is perhaps due to the director here, Scott Waugh (Ric Roman Waugh's brother) who gave the world Act of Valor and Need For Speed. But after those two films, failed to live up to industry standards by releasing a movie that starred Jackie Chan and John Cena, two global superstars in a movie that nobody still has heard about. The result had Waugh mashing a ton of sequences together, most of which don't contain an action beat which slows down this movie's pace to a crawl. But when the action heats up, it does so in a booming way, however, the visual effects keep things at a laughable level that if one were to look hard enough can relate it to those B-movie action vehicles of the 1970s and '80s. But with a $100 million budget, what's the point really?
The original goal here was to have Statham come aboard and take over the franchise. It's easy to see how the stones fell for this narrative to happen, but with some twists and turns in the movie, don't count out Stallone yet, even though he only has a few minutes of screen time here. For a fourth action movie of the same story, it can be difficult to flesh out new ideas, but The Expend4bles manages to go in new directions with a fresh cast, there needs to be someone behind the scenes with a better grasp to bring that back to form. Good advice might be to stage the fifth movie in the United States, lower the budget by more than half, go all out on practical effects, and keep the runtime under 100 minutes with tons of one-liners, and heavy-hitting action within everyone's wheelhouse. This franchise is anything but expendable, and this fourth outing is a fun midnighter with popcorn.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Expend4bles expands its way to 4K + Blu-ray + Digital Code via Lionsgate. Both discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork on both features the entire cast with weapons with a firey explosion behind them. There is an insert for a digital code as well.
The Expend4bles comes with a 2160p UHD 4K picture with Dolby Vision that looks great. The colors are vibrant and bold for a film that is somewhat steeped in low-light conditions. But the use of colored filters brightens up the dank rooms or bars these actors are in. Blue and green highlights showcase darker elements of the film and with the enhancement of the Dolby Vision, these colors show off nuanced shades of the surroundings. The bar and other locations have some great primary colors that range from reds, oranges, and purples that look amazing. Black levels are inky and rich and the skin tones are natural.
The detail is vivid and sharp throughout with some wonderful closeups of the actor's faces that reveal individual hairs, facial stubble, beads of sweat, and textures in the tactical gear, wardrobe, and metallic sheen in the weapons. The issue comes with the source of the CGI effects. The green screen work here is shoddy at best, so these sequences where big computer effects rule the world, look amateur. The sharpness of the 4K image doesn't help these visuals. It actually hurts them. Other than that element, the video presentation is very good
This release comes with a wonderful and dynamic Dolby Atmos track that is the epitome of action movies. The sound effects are robust and very loud with tons of destruction and explosions. Each of those blasts creates a fantastic array of debris noises that fly everywhere. Gunshots pack a big punch and with each different weapon, the gunshot sounds individual. The low end of the bass is simply amazing with a big rumble that never sounds rocky or unintentionally punchy. The music cues and score always add to the action and suspense and the dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow. The height speakers bring weather elements and bullets and flying vehicles from above with their intense engines. This is a blast to listen to and is a must for those who have great audio setups.
There are only about 38 minutes of bonus features on this release along with an Audio commentary track from the director. Despite the length of these extras, there are some great moments with interviews and being on location.
The Expend4bles might not be the best sequel, however, it has enough fun with new and returning faces that bring in some fresh action to this franchise. It's pulpy turn-off-the-brain fun and it'd be interesting to see if the franchise has any rounds left in the clip after this box-office dud. It's just a shame there were some pacing issues and some inexperienced CGI work here. Otherwise, a fun movie. The 4K image with Dolby Vision and the audio Dolby Atmos track are both great, as are the set of extras. Recommended!