With its reliance on spectacle over substance, the action genre churns out more sub-standard fare than most counterparts. It’s then no surprise that the majority of action stars have at least a few stinkers under their belts. And we’re not just talking about obvious names such as Nicolas Cage, the reigning champion of this particular phenomenon. Indeed, even someone as consistent as Tom Cruise stars in the occasional turkey. Remember 2017’s “The Mummy?”
To identify the worst action movies by America’s top action stars, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. We considered data for the more than 22,000 movies with more than 5,000 reviews on IMDb as of August 2022. (Action performers don’t necessarily do better with films in other genres. Here are the worst non-action movies from Hollywood’s top action stars.)
For a number of movie stars, the worst material comes later in their careers. For example, Sylvester Stallone’s lowest-rated action movie is “Escape Plan 2: Hades,” the recent sequel to his blockbuster prison thriller “Escape Plan” from 2013. And while Stallone’s original co-star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, didn’t return for the second adventure, don’t take that to mean he’s off the hook. Not only has the former California governor headlined a number of clunkers over the last few years, but his 1997 franchise-ender “Batman & Robin” is among the most famous bad movies ever made. (These, on the other hand, are the 50 best action movies of all time.)
Reputable actors such as Kurt Russell and Denzel Washington have likewise appeared in lackluster action fare. For Russell, it was the 2006 disaster film “Poseidon,” while Washington starred in the campy 1995 technothriller “Virtuosity.” For Washington’s co-star in that film, Russell Crowe, the worst action movie would come over a decade later in the form of 2012’s “The Man with the Iron Fists.”
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