Expendables 4 Director Talks John Wick Comparisons And Jason Statham’s Fighting Style [Exclusive Interview]


It’s no secret that “Expendables 3” sort of broke from franchise tradition by going with a PG-13 rating. And even in the marketing for “Expendables 4,” it seems like you’ve been really pumping up the fact that it’s a hard R. Just watching it at the press screening, there were so many moments where the audience instinctively yelled during some of the more gnarly kills. Was that a conscious thought in your mind? Did you really want to push the envelope on what you could get away with in terms of violence?

[laughs] 100%. My first question was, when they asked me if I wanted to direct it, I said, “Are we adhering to this PG-13, or can we go back to hard R?” And then, when they said, “No. 100% R,” I was super excited, because I was like, “That’s what the fans want in this franchise.” So we could design visceral moments that, in your head, you think, Man, are we going too far? And then you’re thinking, to myself, I think the audience is going to really love that. Fortunately, the audience response has been kind of classic because, exactly what you said, in moments that would pretty much gross most people out, there’s been applause [laughs].

Did you ever get feedback that you maybe went a little too far and kind of had to pull back? Or how was it on the studio side of things?

The beauty of this one, Millennium, the owners of the franchise with Lionsgate, they understand the brand, they understand what the audience wants, and they’re not afraid to go there, so they never had to say, “Hey. That’s a little too graphic. Can we pull it back?” There was never that discussion, which was liberating as a filmmaker.

My final question for you: I know fans might not realize your deep connections with Spider-Man, especially your father, too, going back to the original “The Amazing Spider-Man” show [as second unit director and stuntman for Nicholas Hammond]. I was wondering if you had any just memories, any stories of working on the Sam Raimi movie back in the 2000s?

Yeah, my father was the original Spider-Man in ’76. And when they asked my father and myself to come work on the Sam Raimi version, it was a lot of token appreciation for my father. And me, being his son, got to be there for that moment. To be honest [laughs], we didn’t really do a hell of a whole lot on stunts on that show. We were there as just supporters and excited just to be a part of Spider-Man. But, I will say this: I hope one day I get to check that box and direct a Spider-Man, because that would just, that would make my whole world, man. So, maybe, one day.

“Expend4bles” is in theaters now.

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