For any actor, leading a movie franchise that goes on to have multiple sequels is a testament to the fact that you are delivering a performance that your audience just can’t get enough of. In the case of Sylvester Stallone, that feat has been accomplished time and time again. First there was Rocky, spanning six movies and a spin-off series with Creed. Then there was Rambo with five movies to its name and most recently, The Expendables, now gearing up for its fourth epic outing on the big screen, officially titled The Expend4dbles. With Stallone set to reprise his role of Barney Ross, the leader of a group of mercenaries made up of a glittering cast of action stars, past and present, M&F has a “non-spoiler” all you need to know guide, ahead of the high-octane shenanigans premiering September 22.

While the first Expendables outing for Sylvester Stallone in 2010 earned him a Razzie Award nomination for “Worst Director” and was negatively reviewed by some movie critics that perhaps take themselves a little too seriously, the film did find an instant fanbase among those that appreciate the kinds of action movies that they first fell in love with in the 80s. The testosterone fuelled debut for this franchise, which was also co-written by Sly, found huge box office success, paving the way for Stallone to write two more movies. While critics scoff at the ultra-violent shoot’em up sequences and bombastic soundtrack, the franchise has been praised for its humor, stunt work, and special effects, leaving many of us hungry for more nostalgic action.

Expendables 4 aka Expend4bles promotional art work
Expend4bles 4 / Lionsgate

What took so long for The Expendables 4 to hit cinemas?

With around a two-year gap between the release of the first three movies, it is notable that The Expendables 4 is almost ten years removed from the last chapter. While this muscle-bound movie had been in the planning stages since 2014, Stallone’s frustrations with the creative direction of the film led him to walk out of the project altogether. Fortunately, those differences were patched up in no small part thanks to other cast members who had lobbied for his return, and while he is no longer a lead writer of director on the project, Sly was heavily involved in the look and feel of the movie, even working on pre-production designs ahead of shooting. Covid was another a factor in delaying the project, but with scenes being shot in London, Greece, and Bulgaria, the film finally wrapped and headed for post-production in December, 2021.

Who has been cast in the Expendables 4?

With previous alumni of the Expendables franchise including action royalty like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Ronda Rousey, movie goers won’t be disappointed by the lineup for the latest adrenaline-fueled instalment. Returning alongside Stallone will be Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture and they will be joined by new blood including “50 Cent” Curtis Jackson, Megan Fox, Andy García, and Thai martial artist and actor; Tony Jaa.

What can we expect from The Expendables 4?

The Expend4bles has received a welcome return to an R-Rated certificate, after some fans felt that the previous outing’s PG-13 rating stifled the extreme experience they had become accustomed too in the earlier chapters. Directed by Scott Waugh and based on a story by Spenser Choen, the plot finds our rag-tag bunch of mis-fit mercenaries assigned on a mission to thwart a terrorist organization (led by “Suarto Rahmat” who is played by Iko Uwais). Since Uwais himself is not just an actor, but also a martial artist, fight choreographer, and stuntman, it seems we can expect the action scenes to deliver in thrilling fashion, but Stallone is also taking a keen interest in the movie’s fight sequences, to make sure that they deliver what he called “brute force” an Instagram post.

“Cuz, I think some of these action scenes get crazy with the martial arts and blocking,” said Sly during production in October, 2021. “… I believe that a bar fight is just mano a mano, and heavy force.. brute force. I like that. Keep it simple. Keep it simple and the audience will be marvelled at the intensity of it, instead of diluting it.”

Is it true that The Expendables 4 is the last in the franchise?

Sylvester Stallone has gone on record as saying that this will be his final Expendables movie, and is ready to pass the baton into Jason Statham’s “more than capable hands.” But, while Sly will probably not return, the series could continue in a similar fashion to that of Creed; another cinematic universe filled with characters that are rich enough to move stories forward without their original star.

What remains to be revealed by the The Expend4bles however, is just how Barney Ross will exit the movie. Will he be killed off in one final blaze of glory, or will the role be left open for future cameos? At 77 years of age, Stallone deserves to step away from the gruelling stunt work that has become such a staple of his incredible career, but with a new season of his hit television series “Tulsa King” in the works, a reality show on the air, and an upcoming life-story documentary set for Netflix, there’s plenty of life left in the big man when it comes to entertaining the masses. The Expend4bles hits cinemas with a bang on Sept. 22.