Tanks and hunks bring chaos to Cannes Croisette
What do you get if you park two tanks carrying some of the world's biggest action leads in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival?
Answer: a muscle-bound recipe for complete and utter chaos.
There was little improvement inside Cannes' Carlton Hotel as hundreds of journalists squeezed into its ornately pillared ballroom for a raucous press conference.
Sylvester Stallone took the mayhem in his stride with practised aplomb, though other members of The Expendables 3 cast looked as if they had been caught in the eye of a hurricane.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford completed the quartet of Hollywood stalwarts, with Spain's Antonio Banderas, Sweden's Dolph Lundgren and Britain's Jason Statham fleshing out the film's middle-aged contingent.
Indeed, such was the ratio of hunk to microphone that Wesley Snipes - the Blade actor who recently served a three-year prison term to tax evasion - could barely get a word in.
The atmosphere was one of back-slapping camaraderie, with Gibson describing the Bulgaria shoot as "a blast" and Ford calling his co-stars "a great bunch of guys to work with".
"It's a very unique project," said Lundgren, who famously made his name playing Stallone's antagonist in 1985's Rocky IV. "The audience feels like the characters are friendly for real."
"I'm a big fan of action movies," said Terminator star Schwarzenegger, who shot his contribution to the first Expendables film in 2009 while still serving as Governor of California.
"They are always a great way of entertaining people," the 66-year-old went on. "They have a universal language."
According to Twilight actor Kellan Lutz, one of the younger members of the cast, being on set was like "winning an action sweepstakes - running around shooting guns with all my favourite heroes."
"All these guys have worked on so many films," said Patrick Hughes, the sequel's Australian director. "To have that wisdom on set was like [being in] film school all over again."
Jokes were freely exchanged between the actors, with Stallone and Schwarzenegger swapping jibes about their less successful, more comedic ventures.
Inevitably, though, talk soon turned to how long the mercenary-based series can continue in the light of the various injuries sustained and mishaps endured during filming.
One of them - an accident that saw a truck plunge into a dock with Statham at the wheel - featured in a montage of behind-the-scenes footage shown before to journalists before Sunday's press conference.
Statham swam away unscathed on that occasion, unlike the stuntman who died in a boat explosion during the making of The Expendables 2 in 2011.
"Everyone gets hurt," sighed Stallone. "There's no getting around it. Everyone goes home bruised.
"You try to take precautions, but when you do hands-on action that's what you take pride in - actually talking the bumps and bruises."
"You do get hurt and things do go wrong," nodded Statham, also known for his recurring role in the Transporter series. "It's par for the course.
"We have a battery of physicians who come in like elves and fix us every night," joked Lethal Weapon star Gibson, who takes the role of the villain in the latest Expendables instalment.
Ford's involvement in the franchise coincides with his return to the resurgent Star Wars series, which began shooting in the UK this week.
"I'm just delighted to be involved," he said of JJ Abrams' as yet untitled sequel. "We have a great script and a wonderful cast.
"JJ is a director at the top of his game and I'm looking forward to it," the actor continued.
The 71-year-old would not be drawn, however, on whether his Han Solo character would return in future Star Wars movies, feigning deafness when pressed by this British reporter.
Aiming for younger viewers
For his part, Stallone expressed delight to see Ford become one of what he described as a group of "very adult children… with arthritis".
"We go back a long time," he said of the Indiana Jones and Blade Runner star. "I think Lincoln was in the White House when we first met."
The makers of The Expendables 3 are hoping it receives a PG-13 certificate in the US, the equivalent of a 12A in the UK. (Previous entries have carried an R or 15 rating.)
"We want to reach as much people as possible," said Stallone. "We owe it to the next generation for them to be able to enjoy the film, without having to sneak into the theatre."
The Expendables 3 is released in the UK on 14 August, while the Cannes Film Festival continues until 25 May.