In connection with the release of “The Expendables 4″ in the near future, questions arise regarding the ranking of the existing three films of the “The Expendables” franchise. The movie “The Expendables”, created by Sylvester Stallone, was created with the aim of uniting a group of action stars of the 80s and 90s in a joint work dedicated to films that helped define their careers. Stallone led the main cast of The Expendables, a band of loser mercenaries who take on the most dangerous global missions at a huge price. Originally conceived as a comedy ensemble for buddies, Stallone turned it into a hard-R-style series before the cameras turned on. Released in 2010, “Unstoppable” was a decent success, collecting $274 million worldwide from a budget of $80 million, which made a sequel inevitable.
However, The Expendables 2 was planned seven months before The Expendables was released, as Stallone was passionate about the concept from the beginning. Although several stars were invited to the sequel, including Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, not all were interested or were able to join due to time and general interest. Nevertheless, “The Expendables 2” managed to attract several new strong attackers from the old militant regime, including Jean-Claude Van Damme as the main villain (named Vilain). The sequel was much better in terms of critical reviews and brought in slightly more than the original, grossing $314 million worldwide out of a $100 million budget, prompting the move to create a second sequel.
“The Expendables 3” would be the most controversial part of the franchise, as it changed two major aspects of the franchise. Firstly, he lowered the R rating in favor of a more audience-friendly PG-13. Secondly, he tried to attract young action stars, presumably as torchbearers of the franchise. Both of these aspects have significantly harmed the film, even with the addition of more iconic action stars to the established cast. The box office was dismal compared to the other films in this series, grossing $214 million worldwide, with the worst reviews of the franchise to date. Here is the rating of the franchise “The Expendables”:
The Expendables 3
The most recent installment of the Expendables franchise is also the worst of the series, mainly due to the aforementioned PG-13 rating and the inclusion of a younger cast that distracted from the older stars that many viewers had to see. The young cast consisted of promising newcomers such as former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, former boxer Victor Ortiz, Kellan Lutz from Twilight and Glen Powell from Best Shooter: Maverick. Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Crews, Lee and Couture returned for the third time, joined by an impressive cast of iconic action stars such as Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson, who played the film heavy.
Director Patrick Hughes (“Killer’s Bodyguard”) made his US debut with the movie “The Expendables 3”, which suffered greatly due to the diluted action and incoherent shift of focus from classic stars. Another aspect that probably hurt the box office was the leaking of the movie in high definition online just three weeks before it hit theaters, which almost certainly affected the final numbers. However, the lackluster action, clunky gameplay, and generally boring directing didn’t help “The Expendables 3” in any way. If the film had at least retained an R rating and relied on harsher violence and cult stars, it might have had a saving grace, but in its current form, The Expendables 3 is like an edited-for-TV version of the franchise.
The Expendables 2
Director Simon West (“Air Prison”) was involved in the production of “The Expendables 2”, and Stallone continued to work as a screenwriter, producer and star. West replaced the tough action of the first film with a more refined look that corresponded to the atmosphere of the 90s-era action movies. Thus, Stallone was freed to fight with a stellar cast, which this time included Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain (he initially turned down the role in the first film), as well as some recently added legends such as Chuck Norris and Scott. Adkins, with the extended roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, who played cameos only in the first film.
The action in “The Expendables 2” is cleaner than in the original, which gives it a bigger and brighter look than in the original, but that doesn’t make it any better. If “The Expendables” was copied from the 80s, then “The Expendables 2” was copied from the 90s, which is a credit to West’s directorial style, even if it’s not as tough as Stallone’s. The R rating remained, allowing the violence to be excessive and push the boundaries a bit, but “The Expendables 2” never reached the raw, hardcore exposure of the first film.