On the edge of Sofia, Bulgaria lies Nu Boyana Studios, a place that may not sound familiar to you, but has been a staple of production for a number of films in recent years, including Olympus Has Fallen, 300: Rise of an Empire, Conan the Barbarian 3D and Kon-Tiki. Even though I've known it for some time, it doesn't fully hit me until I'm exiting the production van and I see the cast – I'm here to meet The Expendables.
About 30 yards away from me I can see Jason Statham chatting with someone amid a crowd of other actors clad in kevlar and bandanas. Make-up and hair people scuttle about, making sure that everyone's scar and dust-clad faces are camera ready as the day's work is about to begin. It's at that moment that the man himself, the legend, the creator of this stellar franchise, Sylvester Stallone, walks out of a trailer and into the crowd. Though he had recently hit his 67th birthday, Stallone is still in better shape than you can ever hope to be.
"This is horrible, it's the worst thing ever," he would later tell us, quite facetiously. "Running around with guns and bombs and dressing up with black clothes, hanging out, having fun, pretending to be a soldier, who would want to do that?"
This tongue-in-cheek comment draws substantial laughter from the rest of the cast, Statham having the most boisterous and infectious of the laughs.
"It's great, we're having a great old time," Stallone added, and it shows. Even though the cast will spend the entire day running in smokey rooms, firing guns, and dodging pretend bullets, the camaraderie that they all share can be felt, and if only a fraction of that is captured on screen by director Patrick Hughes, it'll be a treat for the viewer.