What is the plot of ‘Expend4bles’?
Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables, led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. When The Expendables are assigned a mission to stop a terrorist organization from smuggling nuclear warheads that will ignite a conflict between Russia and the U.S., new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.
Who stars in ‘Expend4bles’?
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Scott Waugh about his work on ‘Expend4bles,’ the challenges of joining a franchise already in progress, if Sylvester Stallone is really passing the series over to Jason Statham, Lee Christmas going all ‘Die Hard’, shooting a motorcycle chase on a cargo ship, why he enjoyed working with Megan Fox, and how ‘The Expendables 3’s Antonio Banderas almost returned for the new movie.
Moviefone: To begin with, as a filmmaker, can you talk about the challenges of joining a movie series already in progress and coming in to direct the fourth installment of a popular franchise like ‘The Expendables’?
Scott Waugh: Well, I think the challenge is you never want to deviate from the brand. The fans love ‘The Expendables.’ They love the tone of ‘Expendables.’ It’s a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I always say it’s an escapism type of movie. You leave our dark world we live in and pay money to go somewhere else and have some fun. That’s ‘Expendables’. So for me, what I really was focused on the whole time was how do I bring something fresh and fun, but throwback to the original movie? So we were extremely hyper-focused on going back to the original movie and maintaining that core cast and the fun of it, tonally getting back on message, getting back to rated R, and getting back to the fun violence. But then I wanted to elevate the action and the fights, and take it to a new level. That’s when we brought in the Hong Kong fight team that I worked with on ‘Hidden Strike’ and really just tried to elevate all of that.
MF: The movie introduces the idea of Barney Ross handing over the team to Lee Christmas, and in a way, Sylvester Stallone handing the franchise over to Jason Statham. Can you talk about that theme in the movie and was Stallone cool with the idea of taking a back seat to Statham and the rest of the crew?
SW: I think the idea that Stallone’s passing this to Statham is exciting. Stallone still amazes me, his physical capability at his age. It’s still unbelievable to me. I’m 53 and busted up, and somehow he is in his late seventies and can still do it. But I think for Sly, he’s in a place in his life where time is super important to him. Being on the full run of an ‘Expendables’ movie takes up a lot of his time and I fully respect that. Jason’s my age and really is still excited about continually working a lot. So it was a natural pass. Now, I’ll say, I definitely don’t think Sly is out of the brand. I think Sly will always be a part of it. He’s the starter of ‘The Expendables’ and the original director. So I think it’s new blood with the old.
MF: The second act of the film sees Lee Christmas taking on a group of bad guys by himself and it seemed a little ‘Die Hard’ inspired. Can you talk about that sequence and was that what you were going for?
SW: So look, the story itself is a revenge and redemption story, and it does come around the character of Lee Christmas. So I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a Christmas story, but it definitely leans on his character because of what his character’s going through. But there is this wonderful moment in the end of act two that I really feel like, does the franchise have the boldness to do what you think they might do? I don’t want to give away the plot, but we do something that will really make your eye drop. I’m not going to give it away, but I’ll just say this, it stays on message with the brand.
MF: There is an incredible action sequence involving a high speed motorcycle chase that takes place on a cargo ship. Can you talk about choreographing and shooting that scene?
SW: I come from motocross. I was super excited about trying to bring something fresh to the ship because I’m like, “What can we do on the ship because it’s a ship?” I’m like, “What about a motorcycle chase on the ship?” That’s how we designed this whole thing. Then the exciting part was I go, “Man, we got to do something super cool. We need to bring in somebody like Robbie Maddison and do some badass X Games jumps and get that quintessential moment in the movie.” Luckily, we were able to get Robbie to come in and do the big jump for us. I think it’s just one of those moments that hopefully makes you smile because it’s so crazy, so cool, and so Christmas.
MF: While there have been female Expendable members in past movies, Megan Fox’s Gina is different because she is also a team leader and receives the same level of respect as Ross and Christmas. Can you talk about the importance of creating a female character who is really on the same level as the strongest Expendable members?
SW: Look, I think it was definitely a part of the script when I came in with Megan’s character, Gina, and I really enjoyed the fact that there was a female character that was on equal ground and was badass. It’s incredible working with somebody like Megan because she doesn’t give herself enough credit. I was working with her. I’m like, “You’re so physically talented,” and I think she’s a wonderful actress and she fits in so well with the rest of the guys because she can hold her own weight. She doesn’t take any shit from any of the guys, and I just love that. That’s why I think she just fits in with those type of big personalities.
MF: Finally, actor Jacob Scipio plays Galan, the son of Antonio Banderas character, Galgo from ‘The Expendables 3.’ But I understand that originally Banderas was set to return but you just couldn’t work out his shooting schedule, is that correct?
SW: That’s exactly it. When I read it, I was expecting Antonio was coming in. Then when they said, “We can’t make it work out with Antonio’s schedule,” I was like, “But the character’s so great and he’s so important throughout all those moments.” So I thought about it. I came back to the producers and I said, “What if we make it his son? Galgo was his father. Galan is the new character and Galan could be just like his dad with the same personality.” So that’s when we came up with that character and then we casted Jacob and he did a great job.