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THE EXPENDABLES 2 REVIEW

The Expendables 2 is an upcoming ensemble action film directed by Simon West, written by Sylvester Stallone and based on characters created by David Callaham. It is a sequel to the 2010 action film The Expendables, and stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film is due to be released on August 17, 2012, by Lions Gate Entertainment.

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Synopsis

After taking a seemingly simple job for Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) the Expendables find their plans going awry and one of their own is brutally murdered by rival mercenary Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The Expendables set out into hostile territory — with their new members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) — to put a stop to a deadly weapon and gain their revenge against the villain who killed their brother.

Cast

  • Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
  • Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
  • Jet Li as Yin Yang
  • Dolph Lundgren as Gunnar Jensen
  • Chuck Norris as Booker
  • Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
  • Randy Couture as Toll Road
  • Liam Hemsworth as Billy the Kid
A sniper. Hemsworth was confirmed for the role on September 19, 2011.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme as Jean Vilain
Primary antagonist and the leader of an opposing team of mercenaries. Van Damme had previously been offered a role in The Expendables but failed to come to an agreement with Stallone and ultimately never took part. Commenting on the role, Stallone said "We’ll have a big showdown between me and Van Damme, which has been anticipated for a long time, so it should be a good one.
  • Bruce Willis as Mr. Church
In late August 2011, Stallone stated his interest in having Willis return for a role in the sequel — expanding upon his brief cameo in the original — potentially as a "super villain". Willis was confirmed to be involved in a "substantial" role on September 6, 2011. Commenting on the film, Willis said "Hopefully, they'll start shooting it while we're young enough to survive.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trent Mauser
Stallone noted his intention to have Schwarzenegger return for a sequel before the release of The Expendables, stating "If this works, I would love to get him in the next one". Schwarzenegger's involvement was confirmed on September 6, 2011, his "substantial" role expanding on his cameo in the original film. Schwarzenegger filmed his scenes in 4 days.
  • Scott Adkins as Hector
Jean Vilain's right hand man. Adkins was confirmed on September 22, 2011.

The cast is rounded out by Chinese actress Yu Nan as Maggie, Swedish actress Amanda Ooms as Pilar, a sniper,and Nikolette Noel as Billy's girlfriend. Professional Tennis player Novak Djokovic has a cameo role as himself after being invited to participate by producer Avi Lerner.

Several actors were reported to be in talks to appear in the sequel at various stages of it's development. In October 2010, Willis claimed that Steve Austin would be returning to the series as villain Dan Paine. In November 2010, Charlie Sheen was reported to be in consideration for the role of a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent hunting down Willis' character. In August 2011, Variety reported that actor, and expert martial-artist, Donnie Yen had been offered a role in the film. The role was a condition of a partnership between Nu Image/Millennium Films and an unnamed Chinese distributor that would see the distributor becoming a producer on the film in exchange for a Chinese actor being cast. The partnership was also considered to make a Chinese release of the film easier to achieve. In September 2011, Stallone confirmed that he was in talks with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, claiming the only obstacle to their involvement would be scheduling. In July 2011, Mickey Rourke was stated to be reprising his role as Tool, but by late September it was reported that he had dropped out of the film, and by October 18, 2011 this status was confirmed. Antonio Banderas was reportedly offered a role but was unable to participate due to other commitments.

On his approach to casting, Stallone explained that he was looking particularly for actors who had not experienced recent significant success in film, saying: "I like using people that had a moment and then maybe have fallen on some hard times and give them another shot. So we’re always looking for actors like Michael Biehn and Michael Paré. I like those kinds of guys. Someone did it for me and I like to see if I can do it for them.

Production

Development

Prior to release, Stallone stated, "I have an idea ready to go" and "I'm going to try to do something that's quite radical". In an interview on August 15, 2010, he said that he does not have a new script yet, but "It's plotted out in my mind's eye. On April 18, 2011, Stallone confirmed that he would not be returning to direct or write The Expendables 2. David Agosto and Ken Kaufman have been hired to write the script based on a story by Stallone. Lionsgate confirmed at CinemaCon that the sequel will be in US theaters on August 17, 2012. A teaser poster for the film was released at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It has been confirmed that Simon West will direct the sequel.

Filming

On a $100M budget, principal photography began on September 29, 2011, focusing on stunts with the central stars beginning filming on October 3. Filming is scheduled to take place over 14 weeks, with early filming taking place in Bulgaria at the Nu Boyana Film studios in Sofia, with additional filming occurring in the city of Plovdiv and the town of Bansko. Other filming locations include Russia, France and China. On October 9 Chuck Norris, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger flew to Bulgaria to film their scenes. Filming is expected to conclude in January 2012.

On October 27, 2011, while the 2nd Unit Stunt Team were filming on reservoir Ognyanovo, 15 miles outside of Sofia, stuntman Kun Lieu was killed and another, Nuo Sun, was left in critical condition during a staged explosion on a rubber boat. Sun underwent a five hour operation which left him in stable condition. On November 16, 2011, the production received a fine (of between $343-$3,440) from the Bulgarian environmental protection agency for unlawfully removing shrubs and small trees from the entrance of Devetashka Cave in Lovech Province. Although permits had been obtained, allowing sets to be built in the area, including a bridge directly to the cave, environmentalists complained that filming may damage the cave, the habitat of approximately 40 endangered species. To avoid further problems, the producers agreed to not film explosions, car chases and fires near the cave. As part of Devetashka cave filming BGN600,000 (approximately $408,762) was spent to rebuild a 114 meter bridge crossing from the cave over the river Osam—only the concrete bridge columns remained of the original structure. Nu Boyana Film Studios announced that the bridge would remain after the completion of filming as a gift to Bulgaria.