Les Weldon, producer of the Expendables 4 franchise film, has come forward to shed light on Sylvester Stallone’s reduced role. The Expendables franchise, which debuted in 2010, revolves around an elite group of mercenaries who undertake covert and perilous missions. Featuring a stellar ensemble cast of action stars like Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Stallone himself, the movies have been a fan favorite. Stallone, in particular, has played a central role as the lead character in the previous films. However, in this fourth installment, his screen time has been notably limited.
In an interview with JoBlo, Weldon clarified that Stallone’s reduced role was a deliberate creative choice driven by the script and the story. He defended this decision, emphasizing that it added an intriguing twist to the narrative and ultimately enhanced the film. Weldon explained, “Look, it wasn’t about passing the torch, per se. We were focused on crafting the best possible story for this installment. While there is an element of succession, it was primarily a result of the script and storyline. We didn’t want to force new actors into the mix; the story naturally evolved this way. Sly was fully on board with it, and it brought a fresh dynamic to the Expendables universe.”
Since the inception of the Expendables franchise, Sylvester Stallone has been a pivotal figure, not only as the on-screen protagonist but also as a co-writer for the first three films. However, for the fourth installment, Stallone stepped away from the writing process, allowing other writers like David Callaham, Richard Wenk, and Katrin Benedikt to take the reins. This marked a significant departure from the franchise’s tradition.
In Expendables 4, Stallone’s character seemingly meets an early demise, making way for Lee Christmas, played by Jason Statham, to assume the mantle of the movie’s main character. Yet, in a surprising twist, Stallone’s character reappears in the film’s conclusion, revealing that his death was a clever ruse to outsmart the cunning antagonist.
Despite the anticipation surrounding Expendables 4, the film has faced harsh criticism since its September release. It has received a meager 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviewers and viewers expressing disappointment over lackluster action sequences and subpar CGI effects. These negative reviews have also translated into lackluster box office performance, with the film grossing a mere $42 million globally against a $100 million budget.
While Expendables 4 grapples with several issues, it is evident that Stallone’s reduced involvement played a significant role in its mixed reception.