Hollywood's 10 Worst Attempts to Manufacture the Next Great Action Star

Aside from its hilariously unsubtle title, Bullet to the Head (in theaters tomorrow) has one major thing going for it: It's action movie titan Sylvester Stallone's R-rated return to tough guy cinema, the kind that doesn't co-star all of his peers like some weird AARP ad (see: The Expendables and its 2012 sequel). Stallone, looking more grizzled than ever, plays a hitman who's hell-bent on avenging the murder of his partner. Standing in his way is a similarly large but much younger villain named Keegan, played by Jason Momoa.

Fans of HBO's Game of Thrones will remember the Hawaii-born Momoa as the ruthless Khal Drogo from the show's triumphant first season. A far less number of unfortunate people will also recall that he portrayed the title character in the awful 2011 remake of Conan the Barbarian.

In many studio executives' eyes, Momoa was on track to become the heir apparent to guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and his future Bullet to the Head cast-mate Sly Stallone. That didn't happen, nor, it's safe to say, will it ever.

Momoa isn't alone in such failed efforts, though, as you'll learn by reading up on Hollywood's 10 Worst Attempts to Manufacture the Next Great Action Hero.

other 5 @ the src

8. Jason Momoa
Failed Movie: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Jason Momoa certainly looks the part, and, after watching him body fools on HBO’s Game of Thrones, there was every reason to believe that the diesel newcomer could handle the physicality of a Conan the Barbarian remake. So color us more than a bit flummoxed that Momoa’s efforts to reinvent the legendary character, previously made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the vastly superior 1982 film, were all for naught in 2011's incoherent, empty excuse to splash gore and sword fights onto 3D glasses.

Speaking all of his lines in baritones and leaving the heavy acting to his eyebrows and forehead, Momoa did little to rectify Conan the Barbarian’s myriad problems, the majority of which should be credited to the folks behind the camera. If you gave us $100 cash, we couldn’t recount the film’s plot, nor could we name Conan’s arch-nemesis or explain why in Thulsa Doom’s name Morgan Freeman delivers the opening narration.

4. Taylor Lautner
Failed Movie: Abduction (2011)

If Taylor Lautner knows what’s good for him, he’ll beg Stephanie Meyer to write more Twilight books, or at least some spinoff novels focused on his character. Because if John Singleton’s unconvincing Abduction is any indication, Lautner is on the road to irrelevance.

Not that Singleton gave dude any help, though. Even if it had starred Jason Statham, Abduction would still register as one of the most idiotic and cliché-ridden mistakes in recent memory. It’s as if Singleton has never seen a Hollywood action movie before.

Which, sadly, doesn’t absolve Lautner of his sins. Surrounded by tension-free set pieces and a Bourne-Identity-for-tweens plot, female teenyboppers’ favorite alpaca lookalike spits out dialogue with the verve of a manic depressive. The next Matt Damon, he is not.

3. Shaquille O'Neal
Failed Movie: Steel (1997)

In theory, action heroes don't get any more tailor-made than Shaquille O'Neal. For one, during his time spent in the NBA, Shaq Diesel was a funny, charming, gifted fan favorite, the kind of professional athlete that youngsters want to be and Hollywood agents want to sign. Secondly, in the mid-'90s, the towering 7 feet and 1 inch big man tipped the scales at more than 320 pounds. Best of all, as he proved on the court night in and night out, he was extremely agile for a man his size.

Shaq's biggest selling point, though, was the fact that he'd already shown some workable acting chops in otherwise poorly received films like Blue Chips and Kazaam. And by "workable," of course, we mean enjoyable not to watch, not Oscar-worthy.

As expected, Hollywood move-makers tried to get the most out of Shaq's unique on-screen package, casting him to play the title character in the unnecessary DC Comics superhero flick Steel. Wholly unconvincing as a running, jumping, punching crime-fighter, O'Neal would've put up cinematic air-balls even if director Kenneth Johnson knew how to shoot an action scene with decent lighting, fluid camerawork, and any tangible excitement.

Johnson didn't, of course, and Steel remains the proverbial nail in the coffin housing O'Neal's action movie career.

2. John Cena
Failed Movie: The Marine (2006)

Be thankful—WWE's "Doctor of Thuganomics" could've very well starred in a Vince Mcmahon-backed, poor man's version of 8 Mile. The wrestling federation's resident freestyle rapper, Cena is known for being the sport's biggest hip-hop head, and, one would imagine, there must've been meetings behind the scenes about ways to exploit that side of his persona. So, in a sense, it's a good thing that they opted to go the tired and true route by positioning Cena as a blue-collar action hero.

Nonetheless, discerning moviegoers unfortunate enough to pay their way into screenings of 2006's The Marine were greeted with a predictably bland and formulaic throwback to the Steven Seagal/Jean-Claude Van Damme films of the '80s, minus the goofy charm and loveable cheese.

At his best, Cena is a dimmer, seriously jacked Mark Wahlberg, and in a better movie he'd be likable enough to coast by on his (diesel) everyman qualities. But, alas, The Marine screenwriter Michael Gallagher and director John Bonito didn't do him any favors. For that matter, nor did the filmmakers behind 12 Rounds, Cena's equally inert, action-heavy 2009 effort.

1. Chris Klein
Failed Movie: Rollerball (2002)

Two successful American Pie movies in a row—in 1999 and 2001, respectively—solidified the cast members' collective in-demand status throughout Hollywood. Whereas Jason Biggs wisely signed up for a string of lightweight comedies, Chris Klein, the resident jock, foolishly fancied himself an action hero. He came across some promising material, too: a high-budget remake of the 1975 cult flick Rollerball, directed by John McTiernan, who'd previously made Predator and Die Hard. Foolproof, right?

Absolutely not. Made for $70 million, Rollerball hardly made back $26 mil at the box office, proving a couple of things: One, McTiernan's glory days were long behind him, and, two, his boy Chris Klein possessed (and still possesses, frankly) the on-screen magnetism of a chiseled mannequin

do u agree w/ this list, ONTD? Who would YOU add?