While The Expendables 4 is still in the process of being completed, audiences have good reason to believe the latest installment of the action franchise will fix two of the major failings of the third movie, The Expendables 3. With an ensemble cast of iconic action stars headed up by Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables was an homage and throwback to the blockbuster films of the 1980s and 1990s. Along with the appeal of seeing an international cast of legendary action figures teaming up in a film for the first time, The Expendables featured large-scale action sequences, impressive fight choreography, and plenty of one-liner jokes between the punches and explosions.
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The storyline for The Expendables involved an elite group of mercenaries hired for a mission to infiltrate an island Latin American dictator, a formula perfected by 2021’s The Suicide Squad. The Expendables was a success, earning $274 million at the box office and resulting in two sequels being made over the next four years. While The Expendables 2 surpassed the original with a box office gross of $315 million, The Expendables 3 was the least successful entry in the franchise, earning only $214 million.
Production began on The Expendables 4 in October of 2021, with Stallone returning with original cast members Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture. Plans for a spin-off film involving Statham’s character Lee Christmas were also announced, though it now seems as though these projects are one and the same. This seems to have been confirmed by a post Stallone made on Instagram in August, announcing The Expendables: A Christmas Story as the working title for the fourth film. It is possible an Expendables spin-off is better than a sequel, especially given the opportunity to fix the major failings of The Expendables 3.
Why The Expendables 3 Is The Least Popular Of The Series
The cast in The Expendables included Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, and Mickey Rourke, with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger giving cameo appearances that would be expanded in the sequel. The Expendables 2 also added Chuck Norris and Liam Hemsworth to the cast, along with Jean-Claude Van Damme as the installment’s main villain. The cast only grew for The Expendables 3, which added Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammar, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Mel Gibson, and Harrison Ford. Given The Expendables franchise’s resistance to killing off characters, many of the original cast members also returned and The Expendables 3 simply had too many characters to care about, or even keep track of.
The Expendables 3 also made the bold choice of aiming for a PG-13 rating, despite the first two films being R-rated for extreme violence and some language. When speaking at a press conference in 2014 (via Deadline), Stallone explained the decision was made to “reach as many people as possible,” and that he believed they “owe it to the next generation.” This likely also explains why several of the new cast members belonged to a younger generation, instead of additional icons from past decades of action. Jackie Chan almost appeared in The Expendables 3 but backed out over concerns the role was too small. This was likely a good decision, both given the bloated cast and watered-down violence. The rating decision ultimately backfired, with The Expendables 3 earning poorer reviews and box office results than either of the previous installments, despite being PG-13. Stallone and the filmmakers failed to recognize the elements from the first two films that spoke to the core fanbase, and efforts to appeal to younger viewers were similarly unsuccessful. If the franchise hopes to revive interest in the action franchise, The Expendables 4 will have to follow through on some crucial improvements.
How A Christmas Story Is Fixing Expendables 3’s Biggest Issues
After the failed attempt at appealing to a wider audience with The Expendables 3, Stallone confirmed that The Expendables 4 will be rated R, calling the previous PG-13 rating a “horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part.” How extreme and graphic the action is in The Expendables 4 remains to be seen, though the success of Mad Max: Fury Road and the John Wick franchise since the 2014 release of The Expendables 3 has done a lot to pave the way for successfully violent films. The new cast members hint at a few ways The Expendables 4 could manage to innovate the series with impressive action.
While The Expendables 4 is continuing the formula of adding new characters with each installment, it may have fixed a major problem of The Expendables 3 with less of the original cast returning. Along with Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture will be returning to their roles, while other past members of The Expendables team are absent from the cast list. Joining the cast for The Expendables 4 is Iko Uwais as the villain, along with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Andy García, and Tony Jaa in undisclosed roles.
The Expendables 4 Still Needs To Win Back Viewers
After the disappointment brought by The Expendables 3, The Expendables 4 needs to do more than just repeat the formula from the first two films. Some inventiveness may be necessary to make the franchise relevant again, especially now that over five years have passed since the last installment. An article from The Illuminerdi in 2020 reported that Stallone’s role would be an “emotional one for fans” and diminished from the previous installments, though “his presence will be felt throughout the film.” This has led some to speculate that Sylvester Stallone’s Barney Ross will be killed off in The Expendables 4. This could pave the way for Statham’s Lee Christmas character to take the lead in the franchise moving forward. Although Stallone has shown no signs of slowing down, the 75-year-old star has seemed to be passing the baton along in several franchises, including the transition from releasing Rocky movies to the spin-off Creed franchise.
As previously mentioned, the new cast members have the potential to invigorate the series in exciting ways. Although The Expendables 4 continues the formula of bringing former A-list celebrities into the fold, there appears to be more of an emphasis on bringing in new talent with the casting of Indonesian star Iko Uwais as the main villain. This decision along with the casting of Thai action legend Tony Jaa in an unspecified role has led many to speculate The Expendables 4 may be a martial arts movie. Both Jaa and Uwais rose to fame with martial arts-driven films in their respective countries. The two also recently co-starred together in the martial arts film Triple Threat, along with The Expendables 2 villain, Scott Adkins. Despite numerous attempts to cast Jaa and Uwais in Hollywood features, neither one has achieved the level of fame that they clearly deserve. If The Expendables 4 is able to capitalize on the potential of these two international stars, it would also give Statham an opportunity to utilize the skill set that helped make him an action star. As far as concerns that The Expendables 4 won’t be violent enough, Ong-Bak and The Raid: Redemption may be further evidence that a martial arts movie would be a good way to avoid the mistakes of The Expendables 3.
Answer More Questions About The Expendables:
Filming has ended on The Expendables 4?
Star Randy Couture announced in April 2021 that the fourth installment is still being developed. A new script was in the works, but filming officially began in the fall of 2021.
Why Jet Li left expendables.
Which were the most valuable expendables?
The Expendables Trilogy Ranked From Best to Worst
- 103 min 6.6.
- 103 min 6.5.
- The Expendables 3 (2014)
Are there 5 expendables?
How will the 4 expendables be rated?
Why are expendables rated as R?