Expendables 4 Will Break The Movies' Action Icon Obsession (& That's Good) – Screen Rant

By introducing actors new to the genre, and removing the previous films’ cameos, The Expendables 4 is breaking the series’ action star obsession.
The upcoming The Expendables 4 will finally break the series' obsession with action icons. The Expendables is a film franchise centered on an ensemble of action movie stars, led by Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, playing a team of elite mercenaries who carry out various missions, usually for a mysterious handler known only as Mr. Church (Bruce Willis). The series was created with the intention of paying homage to the style of 1980s action movies and bringing the stars that led those movies back into the limelight. For instance, The Expendables was the first theatrically released film for Dolph Lundgren since 1995's cyberpunk box office bomb Johnny Mnemonic. As well as paying homage to former action movie stars, The Expendables was created to help usher in a new generation of action heroes, including Top Gun: Maverick's Glen Powell and Furious 7's Ronda Rousey.
One of the major issues with The Expendables series, especially the sequels, is that the cast expands to the point where many of the prolific action stars that litter the franchise have little to do outside of appearing in a gratuitous cameo where they spout off some of their old catchphrases and shoot a couple of nameless henchmen. However, The Expendables 4 looks to be moving away from the series' penchant for egregiously large casts with a stripped-down Expendables crew. The series also looks to be mostly moving away from featuring old action stars, in favor of highlighting new talent and actors who have previously not been associated with the genre. With The Expendables series now well-established, it no longer needs the gimmick of multiple action legends appearing in, often silly, cameos.
Related: Why The Expendables' Attempt To Copy Fast & Furious Failed So Badly
The Expendables 4 features a stripped-down crew with only Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, and Randy Couture reprising their roles from the previous three installments. Instead of the regular menagerie of 1980s action legends joining them, these four stars are supported by a new host of actors, many of whom are newcomers to the genre. Only Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais are famous for their previous roles in action movies. Tony Jaa is a Thai martial artist and actor, who broke out into the world of action movies in 2003 with the highly acclaimed Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior. The film introduced much of the world to the Muay Thai style of kickboxing, and Tony Jaa, already a veteran stuntman, did all of his stunts unassisted by CGI and wires. Indonesian actor and martial artist Iko Uwais has been cast as The Expendables 4's lead villain, and he should prove an incredibly dangerous threat to the team, based on his backlog of incredible action movies. Uwais is largely known for his role in Gareth Evans' The Raid: Redemption, which saw the actor almost single-handedly defeat an entire building's worth of bad guys. Uwais returned for the even more ambitious 2014 sequel and has since appeared in a host of other incredible action movies, such as Headshot and The Night Comes For Us.
The Expendables 4's list of relative action newcomers includes Megan Fox and rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. Fox is mostly known for her role in the first two Michael Bay Transformers movies, as well as the modern horror comedy cult classic Jennifer's Body. Her more recent work includes the thriller Till Death, which saw her drag around a corpse for much of the film's runtime. 50 Cent is most obviously known for his songs "In Da Club" and "Get Rich or Die Tryin'", but he has also dabbled in acting. His most prominent roles include the 2018 heist movie Den of Thieves and the Escape Plan trilogy, which saw him co-starring opposite The Expendables' leader Sylvester Stallone.
The Expendables 4 is also highlighting new talent in Jacob Scipio and Levy Tran. Scipio made his debut in 2020's Bad Boys For Life and was due to star in Batgirl before it was canceled as a tax write-off by Warner Brothers. Levy Tran, meanwhile, is mostly known for her recurring role as Theodora Crain's girlfriend Trish Park in Mike Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House miniseries. Veteran actor Andy Garcia has also been cast as a CIA Agent in The Expendables 4. Garcia is mainly known as a dramatic actor, he earned an Academy Award nomination for The Godfather Part III. But he has also taken part in some of the best action scenes in film history, most notably the staircase shootout in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables
The cast of The Expendables 4 still holds true to one of the series' core tenants of introducing new talent to the action genre. Its manageable size also allows for the film to still indulge in the series' signature ensemble action sequences, while not falling into the previous films' overstuffed cast issues. The Expendables 3, especially, saw much of its bloated cast of action legends sidelined. Instead of displaying the talents of its cast, The Expendables series often just quickly shuffled on its large collection of action heroes for a catchphrase before moving on to the next cameo. By dramatically decreasing the size of its cast, The Expendables 4 is looking like it will avoid this issue and allow for all of its stars to shine in its inevitable plethora of shootouts and fistfights.
Related: The Original Choice For The Expendables 3's Villain (Before Mel Gibson)
With The Expendables series now well-established, it no longer needs the gimmick of overstuffing action legends into its cast for the simple sake of it. The relatively small cast of The Expendables 4 should lend the film a sense of focus that has evaded the series thus far. Instead of having to shoehorn in as many awkward cameos as physically possible, The Expendables 4 now has the opportunity to let its smaller cast shine in their own tailor-made action scenes. With incredible martial artists like Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais joining the film, alongside new talent to the action genre, there are sure to be some showstopping scenes that really showcase the talents of The Expendables 4's cast, new and old alike.
Next: Every Actor Who Turned Down The Expendables
Jack Carter is a new Movie/TV Features Writer for Screen Rant, based in the UK. He has been obsessed with filmmaking all his life, from making short films with his friends in his back garden to obtaining a Film and Television Production degree from the University of York. His favorite films include The Matrix (yes, even the sequels), Star Wars, Point Break, The Silence of the Lambs, and anything with David Lynch’s name attached, though he will be the first to admit that he’ll watch anything and everything. When not writing, you will probably find him hanging out on the beach with his dog or at the movies, popcorn in one hand, Letterboxd in the other. He also posts the occasional rant about movies on Twitter @Jakarta2354 to anyone who will read them. One of these days he may even finish the screenplay he’s been threatening to write for so long.


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