Director: Scott Waugh
Cast: Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Dolph, Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Andy Garcia, Sylvester Stallone
Where: In theatres.
This is the fourth edition of an old-school action franchise that began nearly thirteen years ago and arrives- nine years after its predecessor. The title with the numeric character in it is the only innovation to this poorly mounted film that appears fatigued and worn-out like a retro 1980’s B grade actioner.
Like the series’ earlier three films, this too is about a group of death-defying mercenaries hired to do the CIA’s dirty work. The eponymous team led by Barney Ross Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Statham) is entrusted by Marsh (Andy Garcia), the CIA Operative, to stop an evil terrorist, Rahmat (Iko Uwais), from acquiring some detonators for a shadowy off-camera supervillain Ocelot who plans to ignite World War III.
Rahmat intends to cause a nuclear explosion in Russian territory, making it look as if the US is responsible for it. How our heroes stop this from happening forms the crux of the narrative.
The plot takes a convoluted path to reach its goal. The scenes feel gummed together, layered by the numbers, running through the franchise checklist. The only scene that stands out is the sequences on the cargo ship, which include a bike chase, martial arts face-off between former Expendable Decha (Tony Jaa), who joins as an ally and Rahmat, and heaps of shootouts.
While the fight scenes, which include gore and violence, are astutely choreographed, the digital effects are poorly executed, especially the crashes and explosions. They are a big let-down. They appear so crude and amateurishly mounted that you long for the gritty realism.
Doses of humour are peppered throughout the narrative with one-liners that drag the conversation. They make the entire scenario appear lame and boring. Similarly, conversations between the characters are lost, due to pitch, accents, and awkward delivery.
On the performance front, the cigar-smoking Stallone is graceful but washed out with limited screen presence.
The film belongs to Statham. He breathes life into his character by adding genuine oomph to his demeanour. The other one who catches your attention is the Thai actor Tony Jaa who tries to emulate Johnny Depp.
Iko Uwais does not have the aura to play the ruthless antagonist. He appears weak. So is Andy Garcia, whose enigmatic role does not stand out.
The rest of the cast, including newbies like Curtis “Fifty Cent” Jackson, Levy Tran, and Megan Fox are perfunctory in their disposition.
The first half of the film drags with boring pretentions. The second half suddenly brightens with an adrenaline-boosting background score and action-packed drama. But overall the entire proceeding rolls on interminably lacklustre emotional quotient.