Why new movies from Stallone and Schwarzenegger failed

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 2/04/2013 9:59 am

On Twitter: @JamesEppler

The failure of Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head comes just a couple weeks after Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback vehicle, "The Last Stand," laid a huge egg at the box office.

It seems audiences are sending a pretty clear message.

At 65 years old each, Schwarzenegger Sylvester Stallone aren't just a couple of action star geezers. They both represent a bygone era of film and the kind of hero moviegoers have lost an appetite to see.

Both their new movies are throwbacks to the kinds of films they made in their heydays in the 80s - macho, ridiculously muscular wise-crackers who inflict over-the-top violence in their numerous burly brawls.

Their movies follow very distinct formulas: manly, mostly white men, who overcome the odds against evil with countless bullets and bodies to eventually have a single showdown with the villain.

In "The Last Stand," Schwarzenegger is a small town sheriff trying to keep a fugitive drug lord from making it across the border to Mexico.

In "Bullet to the Head," Stallone is a hit-man who teams up with a a cop to take down a common enemy.

Both movies are laughably bad and entertaining in their own ways, but it's clear that these movies and these actors are banking on the past for success.

It's not that American audiences have lost their appetites for violence, even in this immediate post Newtown era. Look at the success of "Django Unchained" or "Zero Dark Thirty," movies featuring a black man and a woman as their heroes. Those movies prove our attitudes about what and who heroes can be have changed.

The most recent movie for both Stallone and Schwarzenegger was "The Expendables 2," which was a lot of fun and successful because it was a way of poking fun at old action tropes.

But the fact is, audiences have moved on. And it's why other members of the old action order are relying on name recognition for success like making a fifth "Die Hard" movie.

Fans of Schwarzenegger and Stallone may enjoy their new movies. I did to an extent, and much prefer Stallone's entry, for the record.  But as both stars are of retirement age, audiences seem ready to retire their brand of movies.

"The Last Stand": * *
"Bullet to the Head": * * 1/2

Out of five stars

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