Sylvester Stallone‘s Barney Ross and cohorts are headed back for more action in The Expendables 4, and here’s what we know about it so far. It’s a common saying, to the point of being a cliche, that they don’t make them like they used to. This can be applied to everything, from popular foods and drinks to cars, to books, and of course, movies. In the case of action movies though, they really don’t make them like they used to, assuming the “they” in question is Hollywood studios.
When conversations occur about the best action movies or action franchises of all time, all the usual suspects are from the 1980s or ’90s, including Rambo 1-3, Predator 1 and 2, Terminator 1 and 2, Die Hard 1-3, Robocop 1 and 2, Lethal Weapon, and many more. That’s not to say that there haven’t still been terrific action films made since then, but the kind of thematically unrestrained, brutally violent, sometimes wildly over the top blast ’em ups that populated those past decades aren’t really much of a thing nowadays when it comes to a mainstream product. That’s exactly the problem Stallone’s Expendables franchise was designed to solve.
Featuring a cast full of either famous action stars or real-life badasses, the first two Expendables movies brought R-rated, retro-themed thrills to the masses once again. Unfortunately, The Expendables 3 went PG-13 and lost much of that goodwill. Will The Expendables 4 save the day for fans? Here’s what we know.
The Expendables 4 has actually been in some form of development since as far back as 2014, the year when Expendables 3 released to theaters. By 2017 though, Sylvester Stallone had reached a creative impasse with studio Lionsgate, and left the project, taking several of his friends and co-stars with him. Thankfully, Stallone returned in 2018, but things have still been slow-going in the years since, with several stops and starts occurring. In April 2021, cast member Randy Couture revealed The Expendables 4 is still on, with a new version of the script being written, and tentative plans to start filming in fall 2021.
Unsurprisingly, since production has yet to begin, The Expendables 4 has no firm release date as of this writing. Producers previously teased in 2020 that a 2022 release might be possible, which seems logical, assuming filming wraps up before the end of 2021. That also likely depends on how quickly Hollywood schedules snap back after a year of Coronavirus delays.
The prior Expendables cast members confirmed to return for Expendables 4 so far are Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture. Some new famous faces are also coming aboard for Expendables 4, including Transformers franchise veteran Megan Fox, rapper/actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Thai martial arts legend Tony Jaa. One person who it seems definitely won’t be appearing is Terry Crews. He declined to return after Avi Lerner, a producer on the franchise, demanded he drop sexual assault allegations he had made against Hollywood agent Adam Venit. Jean-Claude Van Damme has also publicly pitched the idea of playing the twin brother of his Expendables 2 villain Jean Vilain.
Story details on The Expendables 4 are being kept locked up tight so far, although it’s interestingly been confirmed that Statham’s Lee Christmas will be the lead character this time out. The Expendables 3 didn’t seem to be setting up a direct continuation of its story, with Stallone’s Barney Ross and his titular squad of mercenaries emerging victorious over Mel Gibson‘s arms-dealing villain Conrad Stonebanks. The possibilities are wide open right now as to what the team might get up to in The Expendables 4 and, thankfully, the plan is to go for an R-rating.