And here’s the other story we’re…not sure about. Deadline are reporting that Sylvester Stallone has left The Expendables series over creative differences. Following a group of off the books mercenaries let by Stallone’s Barney Ross and played by a never ending Greatest Hits list of ‘80s and ‘90s action stars and the occasional athlete. The Expendables series are the movie version of really well done tomato and cheese pizza. There is absolutely nothing surprising there but every now and then nothing else tastes quite as good. The second in particular is top fun, if nothing else for the Chuck Norris cameo and the pleasingly burly closing fight between Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Recently though the series has hit some trouble. The third movie, creaking under the weight of almost 20 stars, under performed. The much touted female spin off, The Expendabelles, seemed to have fallen through a hole in time from the worst bit of 1982 and a move to TV was briefly considered. Things seemed to have leveled off when Stallone announced that The Expendables 4 would be released in 2018 and be the last in the series. Given how busy Stallone, Statham and Crewes in particular are, that’s no big shock. Even though only one of them has dance moves this good.
Nonetheless, Stallone has been the heart of this franchise since the start. He wrote the original Expendables with Dave Callaham (So yes, character names like Toll Road and Hale Caesar are his fault), co-wrote all the sequels and even directed the first movie. These are his babies. His angry, angry, cigar-chewing .50 cal babies.
Which is why it’s a shock to see Deadline report he’s left the series . Word is that Stallone was micro-managing the new movie and producer Avi Lerner wanted to go in a different direction. The two have purportedly always had a fractious relationship but worked things out. This time, that doesn’t seem to be the case and Barney Ross has gone on his last op.
If so, that’s a shame. The Expendables movies have never been less than fun and Stallone’s a big part of that. However, if this is true it’s understandable. His work on Rocky Balboa and Creed was massively impressive and showed a willingness to flex a very different set of acting muscles. The fact he’s tried for years to get a final Rambo movie off the ground to send that franchise off into the sunset speaks to his interest in more challenging work too. If The Expendables aren’t offering that, then no wonder he walked away. But money does talk. And it is 1 April. So take this with a pinch of salt, and, odds are, a slow motion explosion or two. Barney Ross may not be done quite yet…