With a director now in place in the shape of Simon West, the man behind “Con Air” and a bunch of movies that offered greatly diminished returns, and with a release date now set for just over a year from now, "The Expendables 2" will presumably start casting up hard soon, but the rumors continue to fly.
The last comes from a more legitimate source -- kind of -- as CEO of Bulgaria-based NU Boyana studios (where the project will film) David Varod, in an interview with Novinite (via Collider) dropped a whole bunch of names. According to him, among the folks expected to return are Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis with John Travolta and right wing asshole Chuck Norris among the new names tapped. Noticeably missing? Jet Li. Though he probably realizes he was not well served -- except for the awesome fight with Lundgren -- in the last film.
Of course, none of this is really all that new or exciting. JCVD, Arnie and Die Hard have all been rumored on and off since talk of a sequel first bubbled to the surface, and Norris is an obvious extension of the '80s cheese this series loves to revel in, while Travolta is just kind of baffling because he's never really been an action star except for one-off efforts like "Face/Off" or more embarrassing fare like "From Paris With Love" or "Broken Arrow." And, well, we all know about "Battlefield Earth."
If anything, the franchise can only go up from here. "The Expendables" attempted to be a riff on the Cannon Video fare of the '80s but instead wound up inadvertently being like one of those films without being aware of it. "The Expendables 2" should also prove to be a challenge just understanding what's going on given the mumbly nature of the cast. For better, but probably for worse, "The Expendables 2" hits theaters on August 17, 2012.