I was shocked when I first learned Consumables 4a.k.a Spend4bles, was not just happening, but as a theatrical release. Even though I’m a fan of action movies, I don’t have much interest in them. The Expendables franchise since I saw the first trailer for the first film back in the day, so the news made me wonder what I was missing. So I decided to watch the 2010 film recently to see what it was all about, and all I can say is that I’m not surprised. Consumables 4 is struggling with criticism and box office against Life II.
I watched The Expendables with my Netflix subscription to see what all the fuss was about, hoping to understand how this franchise reached four films. After the credits rolled, I didn’t have an answer to my question and I still wonder how this franchise spawned three sequels after a subpar first entry for the action genre.
The Expendables Francise made a lot of money
Before I jump into tearing down this franchise, I have to take the opportunity to acknowledge that there was definitely an audience for these films along the way. Although critics were never on the side of these films, the first film grossed a worldwide gross of $274.5 million per film. BoxOfficeMojo with an announced budget of 80 million dollars. That alone would make a sequel to any movie, and when that sequel makes $315 million, it will turn into a third movie.
All this is to say that until very recently, there were people watching these films. People plus money equals aftereffects. So I’m being a little facetious when I ask the question of how a fourth movie came to be, but for the sake of watching the product as a whole as an action fan, I’m still scratching my head about of what so many people saw there.
The Expendables Tried Too Hard to Make Every Actor Look Badass
When each character tries to act like the toughest man in the room, the entire scene turns into pure comedy. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing watching Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in this church scene try to outdo each other, and it turns into a weird pissing contest. Oddly, this goes against Stallone’s recent comments about action heroes, as none of these characters keep their mouths shut and just perform heroic acts.
What really makes me disappointing is that under normal circumstances I would expect the real tough guy in the room to stay quiet and let the wannabes do the talking. The path The Expendables play is that everyone is these shit-talking wannabes, and there’s no tough guy to put everyone back in order. It’s just two hours of guys throwing empty threats and insults at each other between fight scenes, and it’s way crazier than it was intended, I’m sure.
The action of consumables is below the norm for the genre
The Expendables is promoted for featuring some of the best names in the action genre, and yet the film is full of moments in which the action falls well short of the mark for a film like this. At a time when the John Wick the franchise creates great fight scenes that are more elaborate than a Star Wars lightsaber battle, I watched Sylvester Stallone, then 62, struggle to maintain a steady run so he could catch a plane.
Aside from the stars’ physical limitations, there are scenes in The Expendables where fight choreography seems non-existent. Take the opening scene, in which the heroes stand in an open room, shoot enemy terrorists, and eliminate them all without causing any casualties. Is he a badass or is it just luck that they decided to start shooting before taking cover? Much of this movie has moments where it seems like it’s a miracle that the heroes aren’t hurt at least, to the point where I think they are subconsciously aware that they are in a movie and know that they cannot be hurt. Why else would Lee Christmas run straight through an enemy camp solo while throwing random grenades into bunkers?
The level of disrespectful humor directed at Jet Li’s Yin Yang is in poor taste
The first one Consumables The film includes Jet Li, who, at first glance, seems like a nod to the actor’s various accolades in Hollywood as an action star. When performing, Yin Yang (the only character whose nickname is directly linked to his cultural background) is often revealed as the weakest of the group. At one point, Terry Crews’ character refers to the crew as being four and a half men, in reference to Li’s size. Yin Yang is often the film’s punchline rather than the hero alongside the rest of the team.
In my opinion, that’s pretty damn disrespectful to an actor who carried the action genre with some damn good films throughout the 2000s. If Dolph Lundgren is owed flowers for his film accolades until The Expendablesyou can’t tell me that Li didn’t deserve more respect for his work in Unchained, Cradle 2 The Tomb And Intrepid. He would have beaten Gunner if Barney hadn’t intervened, and he deserved more than a condescending response at the end of the movie about it.
The action genre has evolved beyond the Expendables franchise in 2023
After having watched The ExpendablesI did a search to see what the best action movies of 2010 were. The Expendables took first place that year, but in 2012, The Expendables 2 was missing from many lists I looked at. The same is true for the third film, and the further you go, one thing is clear: the action genre has evolved throughout the 2010s, and the era where we nod to ’80s action stars is over.
Maybe it’s my opinion, but on an opening weekend where Consumables 4 only grossed $8.3 million, I don’t think it’s a bold move. The numbers indicate that there are fewer audiences looking for this franchise, perhaps because there is a lot more quality competition in 2023 than when the original film was released. Hell, even looking at the list of best action movies of 2022 that I posted, there isn’t a single entry that I would put anything down. Consumables-related to more.
Initially, I decided to look The Expendables to understand how the action franchise has enjoyed success throughout four entries, but given the recent headlines about the fourth film’s struggles, I may have just understood why box office returns declined on weekends -opening end at each entry. As an action fan who has enjoyed many films of this genre with all the talent that appears in these films, I say with all respect that perhaps it is time to put this franchise out to pasture.
Consumables 4 is out in theaters now, and while it might not be my bag, I’m sure there are still fans who are interested in seeing it. As for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to watch the original films, all three are currently available to stream on Netflix.