Exp4ndables (15, 103 minutes)
Stupid Money (15, 105 minutes)
Perhaps the smartest thing about the new Expendables movie, the fourth in the increasingly cracking series, is its title.
As you can see, they’ve ingeniously replaced the A with a 4. Other than that, I’m inclined to say it’s regrettably predictable stuff.
The last time the Expendables rolled into town, they literally did so. I was at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 when Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Harrison Ford and co to promote Expendables 3 rumbled down the Croisette in a pair of decommissioned Soviet tanks, waving stiffly at the crowd.
Perhaps the smartest thing about the new Expendables movie, the fourth in the increasingly cracking series, is its title
Everyone there recognized that Libya has enough problems right now without being a cliché in a crazy action movie
I remember Ford lowering himself out rather gingerly, his single earring being a near-perfect demonstration of what you might call an artificial hip.
He doesn’t appear here; maybe he exhausted himself playing Indiana Jones one last time. Neither does Schwarzenegger.
But Lundgren is back, along with that mighty old trouper Stallone, once again playing Barney Ross, the aging leader of a gaggle-faced band of mercenaries whose idea of solving problems is to slaughter everyone in sight and ask questions later .
Barney does things the old fashioned way. He is Barney the dinosaur.
Unfortunately, during a different kind of barney – spoiler alert! – he meets his maker. This happens during a gunfight at a military complex in Libya, and while the filmmakers can hardly be blamed, there was some murmuring at Cineworld Leicester Square when the location appeared on screen.
Dumb Money is far more compelling, a slick account of the financial chaos that erupted at the height of the pandemic, involving the video game retailer GameStop
Director Craig Gillespie treats a serious true story with an appealingly light-hearted touch, just as he did with his own entertaining 2017 film I, Tonya, and as Adam McKay did in The Big Short (2015).
Everyone there recognized that Libya has enough problems right now without being a cliché in a crazy action movie.
Anyway, the story has barely gotten started and Barney appears dead and buried, with a wrecked plane and lots of rocks on top of him. He’s Barney trash.
So that means someone else takes over the crew and hunts down the villain (Iko Uwais) who is not only responsible for Barney’s demise, but also – with depressing inevitability – has in his hands a nuclear device that, yes, start of the Second World War. III.
The logical choice as replacement leader is Barney’s great friend, the tinsel-named SAS veteran Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), but he loses the job to his on-off girlfriend Gina (Megan Fox), a formidable mercenary in her own right whose mascara and lipstick can survive any battle unscathed.
Gina is a cosmetic wonder, appointed by the group’s new general boss (Andy Garcia). He is a dark character with a curious habit of sucking on toothpicks while talking, like Kojak with his lollipops for those old enough to remember.
Still from the film Dumb Money (2023) starring Nick Offerman and Seth Rogan
Not a Merry Christmas at all, Lee is left behind in New Orleans while the nonsense moves to a huge rusty freighter somewhere in the Indian Ocean, where the villain is holed up with his deadly nuclear device and a small army of dark villains.
They are, of course, the real expendables of the film, who only shout ‘Yaaarggh’ or ‘Bleurrrgh’ when they get a bullet in the stomach or a knife in the jugular.
That’s what happens when Gina and the others skydive aboard, but only for a while, as they’ll all be captured soon.
Luckily, as you guessed, all their Christmases arrive at once.
Well, just one Christmas, Lee, but it might as well be many, because behind his permanent grimace he is a one-man war machine, who has never met a gang of killers without finding an engine equipped with machine guns (there are at least one on every rusty freighter) to wipe them all out.
Indeed, Lee has a very useful new sidekick in the form of Barney’s old friend Decha (Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa).
But all he really needs is his own unsurpassed fighting skills and the brainpower to figure out who ‘Ocelot’ could be. Did I mention Ocelot yet? He (or she) is the real villain of the film, a villain who hides in plain sight and has been plotting to undermine Barney and his friends for years. Will you be moved by this, or do you care about Ocelot’s identity? Not much.
Dumb Money is far more compelling, a slick account of the financial chaos that erupted at the height of the pandemic, involving the video game retailer GameStop, a small-scale investor from Massachusetts named Keith Gill (Paul Dano) who thought the company’s stock was undervalued goods. , and hedge fund titans played by Seth Rogen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Offerman and Sebastian Stan.
Director Craig Gillespie treats a serious true story with an appealingly light-hearted touch, just as he did with his own entertaining 2017 film I, Tonya, and as Adam McKay did in The Big Short (2015). He is well served by a series of good performances, especially from Dano.
As Gill – whose online pseudonym is Roaring Kitty – he surprises himself and his supportive wife (Shailene Woodley) by initiating a phenomenon known as a “short squeeze.”
He inspires small beer investors to buy GameStop stock, becoming a multi-millionaire in the process and wiping billions off the value of the arrogant Wall Street fat cats whose nickname for Gill and his ilk is “dumb money.”