Movie review: ‘Expend4bles’ is Jason Statham’s show

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Jason Statham in 'Expend4bles'

A terrorist organization headed by arms dealer Suarto Rahmat (Iko Uwais) was smuggling nuclear warheads for a mysterious client code-named Ocelot, who planned to use them to create an “international incident”. The Expendables had been conscripted by CIA agent Marsh (Andy Garcia) to stop Rahmat’s group from succeeding.

“The Expendables” is a film franchise that paid tribute to ’80s action film stars and proving that they still had what it takes to fire up excitement on the big screen. The first three films came out in quick succession, the first film in 2010, followed by sequels in 2012 and 2014. It took almost 10 years before this new sequel saw the light.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) still lead the crew and they command the screen with their skills in action and comedy. Aside from them, only heavy weapons expert Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and demoliton expert Toll Road (Randy Couture) remain from the original Expendables team.

Along with them on this mission were new members: Easy Day (50 Cent), and Galan (Jacob Scipio), the son of Galgo (Antonio Banderas). As Marsh, Andy Garcia took over the role of the CIA operative that the Expendables worked with, who were Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) in the “Expendables 2” and Max Drummer (Harrison Ford) in “Expendables 3.”

Along with the macho crew, there will be two female operatives who were just as bad-ass when it came to the action scenes. CIA agent Gina (Megan Fox) is Christmas’s girlfriend, with whom he had a precariously explosive relationship. Martial arts skills was the forte of Lash (Levy Tran), who got her name from the metal lash she wielded in her fights.

The best thing about this particular outing for me was the casting of two bonafide Southeast Asian action superstars in key roles: Indonesian Iko Uwais (star of “The Raid”) as the main antagonist Rahmat, and Thai Tony Jaa (star of “Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior”). In particular, Jaa’s performance in his knife fight scenes were hair-raising in their intensity.

It may be disappointing for his fans that Stallone was onscreen for only about 10% of this film. Barney was involved in an incident (with poor quality CGI effects) that would make him a rallying point.

When Christmas took over the lead role (as seen in the poster billing), a passing of the baton of team leadership is evident, if ever there is a next film.

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