What makes The Expendables franchise compelling and entertaining, and vitally – long-lasting – is its unapologetic silliness. It has always been, for use of a better word (though get used to this one during this review), silly. Lots of inane action sequences, throwaway one-liners, and ageing superstars that we hold dear to our hearts, making for a film that is ripe with nostalgia, and infected with testosterone. But this latest entry into the series, the fourth, in fact – lacks something valuable: it’s not quite silly enough. To keep going, to find new ways to entertain audiences and ensure the fanbase keep wanting more, you have to embrace the absurd. Just look at the Fast & Furious franchise. They’re racing cars in space. Now that’s silly.

This entry, titled Expend4bles, jumps back into the sweaty-arms of Christmas (Jason Statham) and Barney (Sylvester Stallone), who, along with their merry band of dangerous, weapon-loving mercenaries, have another task on their hands – to, you guessed it, save the world. Though skilled, dangerous and courageous – the collective are up against a formidable foe, in the form of Rahmat (Iko Uwais). But with the old blood leading the way, the crew are joined by a new fresh faces, such as Easy Day (50 Cent), to help them overcome their adversaries, and save the day. But what they do is incredibly dangerous, and their lives are continuously at risk – so having a full line-up to take down the enemy, isn’t always a given.

The Expendables 4

Nothing about the action in this film feels particularly eye-opening, with very little you haven’t seen before. There seems to be little willing to push the envelope, and try new, overstated ways to have faceless henchmen killed off in their numbers. This is especially disappointing considering Iko Uwais, who stunned us with his striking choreography in The Raid, is the chief antagonist. Hoping for more of a martial arts style of combat, but left with the usual cars flipping over, and men being shot down in metal grated corridors.

Other than the action, the dialogue is also underwhelming. It’s so trite and cliched that it almost feels like the screenplay could’ve been written by AI. It’s almost as though every single line has been constructed with the intention of being utilised in the trailer. The banter, if you can call it that, between Statham and Stallone really falls flat. It’s not particularly funny, nor sharp. It’s like two drunk men trying to outwit each other after last orders. And yet, when the other supporting characters come to the forefront, you find yourself longing for it. The dreadful banter becomes the halcyon days.

On the plus side (yes there is one), there is something recognisable about it all, the film is harking back to old action classics, and there’s something comforting about the familiarity of it all. It’s very, very easy to just zone out and enjoy, on a real base level. But the fact of the matter is, this is the weakest of the four films in the series, and The Expendables franchise has not got quite enough good will in the bank for a misfire of this nature, so there’s a very good chance we won’t be seeing a fifth entry. Which is a shame, purely because we may not discover how they contrive to shoehorn in a new pun into the next title.