(director: Scott Waugh; screenwriters: Kurt Wimmer, Tad Daggerhart, Max Adams; cinematographer: Tim Maurice-Jones; editor: Michael J. Duthie; music: Guillaume Roussel; cast: Jason Statham (Christmas), Sylvester Stallone (Barney), Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Easy Day), Megan Fox (Gina), Dolph Lundgren (Gunner), Tony Jaa (Decha), Iko Uwais (Rahmat), Jacob Scipio (Galan), Levy Tran (Lash), Andy Garcia (Marsh); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kevin King-Templeton, Les Weldon, Yariv Lerner, Jason Statham; Lionsgate; 2023)

“It mostly left me feeling expendable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Scott Waugh  (“Hidden Strike”/”Need For Speed”) directs this macho franchise action B-film about mercenaries that hasn’t aged well. A new version surfaces after nine years, but fails to capture the old magic that made it such a commercial hit even if it was at best only a middling film. It’s written without much depth by Kurt Wimmer, Tad Daggerhart and Max Adams.

Those returning characters are the
franchise creator Sylvester Stallone as Barney, who is the leader of the elite mercenary group known as the Expendables. Others on the team include its weapon expert Christmas (Jason Statham), the unreliable Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), the demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and the newcomer Easy (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). The team (which has a loose connection with the CIA, as it takes assignments from CIA agent Marsh (Andy Garcia)) is summoned to Libya to stop the theft of nuclear warheads by a rogue agent (Iko Uwais), the film’s villain, representing a mysterious foreign crime syndicate known as Ocelot.

When hit by a tragedy that splinters their group, they recruit Gina (Megan Fox), the ex-girlfriend of Christmas, and their former colleague Decha (
Tony Jaa). The team regroups in Asia attempting to prevent another World War.

There are underwhelming set pieces,
watchable pyrotechnics and enough action to appease the fanbase. But it’s contrived, offers little emotional depth, and brings on nothing fresh. It mostly left me feeling expendable.

REVIEWED ON 9/24/2023  GRADE: C+