Exclusive Interview with Expendables 4 Director: Comparing the Film to John Wick and Discussing Jason Statham’s Fighting Style

The fourth installment of “Expendables” may feel like a final push for star-driven action films, as audiences seem to be more interested in recognizable brands than specific actors. Despite this trend, the franchise continues to unite some of the biggest action stars, ignoring middling critical reviews and even bouncing back from a poorly-received third film that deviated from the traditional R-rating. Director Scott Waugh aims to reinvigorate the series with a bloody new take, with Sylvester Stallone taking a backseat to let Jason Statham’s character take the lead. In an interview, Waugh discussed movie stars, comparisons to other action films, and a surprising connection to Spider-Man.

There has been a lot of talk online about how movie stars no longer have the same power to attract audiences as they used to. Even though actors like Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, and Margot Robbie are still doing well, it seems that the industry is going through a change. But as someone who has worked with Jackie Chan, John Cena, and the cast of “Expendables,” I believe that many actors still want to be movie stars. Unfortunately, there is currently a strike that prevents them from doing so, and this means that audiences miss out. In my opinion, having movie stars is still a necessity, and I hope to see more of them in the future.

Joining a franchise like “Expendables” was a treat for me. As someone who has been in the action arena since I was 12, it was exciting to work with these action heroes, especially Sylvester Stallone, who is a pioneer in the genre. When I got the call to direct “Expendables 4,” I was super humbled and thrilled.

My background in stunts definitely helped me fit into the “Expendables” franchise, and I believe it was a natural fit for me when the slot opened up. Sly has been wanting to work with me since “Act of Valor,” and we finally found something to work on together.

I must say that Jason is an incredible actor to watch fight.

The notion of stuntmen turning into directors became popular after the success of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski’s “John Wick” movie, where they credited their experience as stuntmen for helping them with the action scenes. For me, this was also the case with my directorial debut in “Act of Valor” in 2012, where I aimed to showcase the action from my perspective. It’s exciting to see more action filmmakers emerging, and I believe that stuntmen are fortunate enough to bring a unique perspective to the craft.

Regarding “Expendables 4,” I was amazed by the main cast’s talent and willingness to do their own stunts. It’s impressive to witness Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham still performing their stunts on set. In particular, Jason’s fighting style is beautiful to watch, with his precision and powerful form making him an ideal actor to design fights for. Despite the franchise’s high-octane action, it remains grounded, which is essential to keeping its authenticity intact.

The fourth installment of “Expendables” is under scrutiny, as it’s being compared to other action franchises such as “Mission: Impossible,” “Fast & Furious,” and “John Wick.” However, the director believes that what sets “Expendables” apart is its grounded nature in comparison to the sensationalism of those franchises. The focus of “Expendables 4” was to stay true to the ’80s-style hardcore action that fans have come to love. To keep the set pieces and choreography fresh, the director aimed to keep things moving and added fighting scenes that involved staying in vehicles or on motorcycles rather than just getting out and fighting. During filming, there was a collaboration between the actors and the director to bring their ideas and involvement to the table. The goal was always to do something fresh and exciting for the audience.

To be honest, I can’t remember ever witnessing a motorcycle chase on a moving ship’s deck before. We aimed to create something unique that would make the audience exclaim, “Wow, man. I’ve never seen that before.” That’s why we decided to have a motorcycle chase on an aircraft carrier and install guns on it. It’s one of our little trademarks in the “Expendables 4.” As a filmmaker and stuntman, I find it challenging to read action on the page. Usually, I just need to know where it starts and how it ends, and then I use my imagination to come up with something original and fresh. When I direct films, people know that I will take the action and try to create something new and see what the location has to offer. Lastly, we questioned whether we should adhere to PG-13 or go back to hard R.

The “Expendables” franchise has always been known for its action-packed violence, but the third installment broke from tradition with a PG-13 rating. However, for the upcoming “Expendables 4,” director Patrick Hughes wanted to return to the franchise’s roots with a hard R rating. He wanted to push the envelope and create visceral moments that might make some people uncomfortable but appeal to the fans. Fortunately, there was no pushback from the studio, and they let Hughes do what he wanted because they understood the brand and what the audience wants. Hughes also shared his deep connection with Spider-Man. His father was the original Spider-Man in the 1976 show, and he and his father even worked on the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie. Though they did not have much involvement in stunts, Hughes hopes to one day direct a Spider-Man movie. “Expendables 4” is now showing in theaters.

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