Every Expendables Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best
8 mins read

Every Expendables Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best


  • The Expendables 4 is ranked as the worst movie in the franchise, lacking enjoyable elements and wasting new additions to the cast.
  • The Expendables 3 suffers from a PG-13 rating and the inclusion of a younger cast, deviating from the franchise’s DNA and resulting in lackluster action.
  • The Expendables 2 offers cleaner and flashier action, capturing the vibe of a 90s-era action film, but the original The Expendables is still the best.



Now that The Expendables 4 is out, here is a complete ranking of every The Expendables movie. The franchise created by Sylvester Stallone was made in an effort to bring together a group of action stars from the 80s and 90s in a collaborative effort that paid homage to the films that helped define their careers. Viewers have seen Stallone share the screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, and others over the course of all four movies, although Expendables 4 shifts the focus to be more centered around Jason Statham.

Although the Expendables movies have largely been successful, the quality of the movies has varied greatly across the franchise installments. This is no different as viewers watch the events of The Expendables 4’s ending unfold. Audiences have seen the R-rated franchise go to PG-13 standards at a cost, while the inclusion of classic and modern action stars has brought diminishing returns. Still, there are hallmarks of the franchise, ranging from massive action scenes to fun action star team-ups, that will mean that the enjoyment of the movies can certainly be debated. Here is The Expendables franchise ranked from the worst to the best movie.

4 The Expendables 4

Jason Statham covered in blood as Lee Christmas in The Expendables 4.

There should be no debate that The Expendables 4 is the worst movie in the franchise. Despite a return to the expected R-rating, the movie is an indication that the series has run its course. Jason Statham’s Lee Christmas takes on the lead role, but the story loses the parts of the franchise that are enjoyable. Christmas is left on his own for most of the movie, as the rest of The Expendables 4’s cast is locked in a room to cement the feeling that new additions like Megan Fox, Levy Tran, and 50 Cent are wasted. Tony Jaa has a few moments where he gets to shine, but they are fleeting, and Iko Uwais’ villain doesn’t deliver on the hype.

The issues with The Expendables 4 go far beyond a lack of team-ups or memorable action sequences. The CGI is egregiously poor. The humor largely doesn’t land. There is a ridiculous death fakeout that viewers will see coming a mile away, as well as an underwhelming villain reveal about Ocelot’s true identity. The lack of originality and fun makes it clear that the Expendables franchise has grown old and is in need of a massive reinvention. After all, the 80s and 90s action movie throwback idea doesn’t work as well when the majority of the people involved weren’t actually part of the genre at the time.

Related: Does The Expendables 4 Have A Post-Credits Scene?

3 The Expendables 3

the expendables 3 cast with stallone, statham, gibson, ford, snipes

The Expendables 3 ranks poorly in a franchise ranking, due largely to the PG-13 rating and the inclusion of a younger cast. The decision to move the franchise away from an R-rating was a serious problem, as it meant watered-down action sequences and more tamed portrayals of the mercenaries. This flew in the face of the Expendables movies’ DNA in what was seemingly a hope for a bigger box office haul which did not come. Retaining the R-rating and leaning into the more hardcore violence could have been a potential saving grace, but it still would not help the movie’s positioning in a franchise ranking that much.

The other major problem with The Expendables 3 came with its younger cast of up-and-comers like former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, former boxer Victor Ortiz, Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, and Glen Powell, who didn’t return in The Expendables 4. They shifted the focus away from the classic stars Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Terry Crews, Jet Li, and Randy Couture all returned for the third outing, joined by an impressive line-up of iconic action stars. Coupled with the lackluster action, hammy performances, and a generally uninspired direction, The Expendables 3 feels like an edited-for-TV version of the franchise more so than a proper conclusion of the original trilogy.

2 The Expendables 2

the expendables 2 with sylvester stallone, arnold schwarzenegger, and bruce willis

Director Simon West (Con Air) was brought on to direct The Expendables 2, while Stallone continued on as writer, producer, and star. West traded the hard-nosed action of the first film for a more polished look that matched the vibe of a 90s-era action romp. Stallone was thusly freed up to wrangle the all-star cast, which this time included Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain (he initially turned down a role in the first film), along with some freshly added legends like Chuck Norris and Scott Adkins, with expanded roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, who made cameos only in the first film.

Related: How Much Sylvester Stallone Was Paid For All 4 Expendables Movies

The action in The Expendables 2 is cleaner than the original, giving it a bigger and flashier appearance. If The Expendables was ripped from the 80s, then The Expendables 2 is ripped from the 90s, which is a credit to West’s directing style. The R-rating allowed the violence to be over-the-top and push the limits a bit compared to The Expendables’ raw, hardcore grit. The plot of all The Expendables films serves merely as a backdrop for the big show, so it’s hard to fault The Expendables 2 over anything to do with storytelling, as audiences tuned in for guns, knives, explosions, and macho one-liners, of which the sequel has plenty.

1 The Expendables

the expendables 2010 with stallone, statham, li

The original is often the best when it comes to movies, and The Expendables is no exception to that rule. Hot on the heels of Rambo, the fourth entry in Stallone’s long-running action series, the director/star jumped into The Expendables with the same attitude and style of that film. Merging a raw, hardcore grit to the action, while pushing the limits of blood and gore, the original Expendables movie was an ode to the excessive over-the-top 80s era, while serving as a modern-day entry in the genre.

Related: When Will The Expendables 4 Release On Streaming?

The macho posturing, eye-rolling one-liners, big-gun spectacle, outrageous characters, and fiery explosions are all there, but there’s also a strong sense of showmanship, led by Stallone and Statham, who make ample use of displaying their prowess for the genre and establishing a fun, goofy duo in the process. The Expendables represents a true passion for the action genre, led by Stallone, who pulled together a great group of aging action icons to do what they do best. It’s not high art, but The Expendables is a trip down memory lane for those who grew up watching these stars in their prime, frequently with VHS tapes and DVDs.

The director’s cut of The Expendables is by far the superior version, which features 15 additional minutes of footage. This includes alternate takes that heighten the action and violence, as well as more backstory of the key players. A notable addition is the use of Shinedown’s “Diamond Eyes” song in the final action scene (used in the original trailer), which gives the sequence a fun, rock-and-roll vibe amidst the carnage. These changes make the director’s cut even better than the theatrical cut, but both versions are still enjoyable. In the end, The Expendables first mission to the big screen is the most successful one.