September 21, 2023 -It’s a throwaway line, but maybe a bit too meaningful, under the circumstances. “Gravity is setting in,” says Barney, Sylvester Stallone’s aging character in “Expend4bles,” when someone asks how he’s doing.
Indeed. Gravity is setting in throughout “Expend4bles,” a movie whose most enticing mystery is not the secret identity of its shadowy villain, but how you pronounce the film’s title. Are we supposed to enunciate the mid-word numeral, or is it merely visual? Is this what stands for a smart new spin on a tired franchise? Will we soon have “My Big F4t Greek Wedding”? Are these questions supposed to distract us from how stunningly mediocre the film is?
Perhaps we digress. This is, obviously, the fourth “Expendables” film, but our considered scientific opinion is that you needn’t see the first three to catch up. True, there’s no explanatory intro, but if you’ve seen earlier “Expendables” films, you’ll know there’s not much to know. These guys are the indestructible mercenaries who swoop in – literally, on Barney’s turboprop plane – to do dirty work in miserable places. The body count is head-spinningly high (this film, directed by Scott Waugh, returns to an R rating after a switch to PG-13 for the last installment). The dialogue is head-spinningly mundane. The flow of testosterone is, well, head-spinning.