Synopsis: A former LAPD cop, now sheriff in a small border town, must gather together a motley crew to stop a fugitive drug kingpin from making across the border to Mexico.
What You Need To Know: 2013 is the year that the Korean new wave make it over to Hollywood, thanks to Bong Joon-Ho's "Snow Piercer" and Park Chan-Wook's "Stoker." But one of the compatriots has something on the way that looks much, much enticing, as Kim Jee-Woon, director of "A Tale Of Two Sisters," "A Bittersweet Life," "The Good, The Bad & The Weird" and "I Saw The Devil," has arrived with "The Last Stand," which is also notable for marking the return to leading man duties for former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The idea of the action legends teaming for a neo-Western was an appealing one, but sadly it looks pretty generic; a lost 1990s actioner mixed with "I am old" gags for Arnie, and unspeakably-aggravating looking comic relief for a inexplicably second-billed Johnny Knoxville (what is it, 2005?). Maybe Kim's been able to put his stamp on it in a way that isn't evident from the marketing, and we're sure "The Expendables" crowd will have a good time, but this looks pretty disappointing to us.
Release Date: January 18th
Synopsis: The White House is under attack and only one intrepid Secret Service agent can save the President.
What You Need To Know: Duelling projects can't be helped, but there's always going to be one loser, and when it comes to this year's trend of White House-set actioners, "Olympus Has Fallen" is sounding like the "Volcano"/"Infamous"/"Deep Impact" to "White House Down"'s "Dante's Peak"/"Capote"/"Armageddon." Gerard Butler, fast becoming a sign of box office disaster after "Chasing Mavericks" and "Playing For Keeps," plays the heroic secret service agent, with Aaron Eckhart as the president, and Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Dylan McDermott, Ashley Judd and Melissa Leo among the supporting cast. Director Antoine Fuqua's career post "Training Day" hasn't been especially memorable, and with pre-sale experts Millennium Films holding the purse strings, expect this to be closer to one of those Asylum blockbuster copy cats that to a real competitor to Roland Emmerich's higher-profile actioner.
Release Date: March 22nd
Synopsis: The aging former spies (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) are brought together again to face off against an old adversary.
What You Need To Know: The original "Red" was a nearly irresistible premise -- OAP spies teaming up to kick ass and crack wise -- and the cast, which included Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary Louise-Parker and Brian Cox, was just as enticing. Unfortunately, what it didn't have was a passable script, making it one of the more disappointing films of the last few years. The sequel, which sees the gang (minus Freeman, who died in the previous film) reunite with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins and David Thewlis also on board, has unfortunately failed to rectify that, with original scribes Jon and Erich Hoeber (who also wrote "Battleship," presumably in crayon) returning. A brighter spot is the presence of "Galaxy Quest" helmer Dean Parisot in the director's chair, but that didn't help "Fun With Dick & Jane" much a few years back. The original proved to be a surprise hit in the fall a few years back; the sequel may have a tougher right at the tail-end of summer.
Release Date: August 2nd
Synopsis: A woman runs away from an abusive relationship, only to fall for a widower in her new home.
What You Need To Know: In 1999, Lasse Hallstrom won his second Oscar nomination, for helming "The Cider House Rules." Thirteen years on, the Swedish filmmaker has been absorbed into the Nicholas Sparks factory, following up 2010's "Dear John" with this second adaptation of a novel by the author of "The Notebook." And everything on the Sparks checklist is being ticked off. Attractive, blander-than-mayonnaise leads? Check, in the shape of Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. Picturesque seaside location? Check. Kissing in the rain? Check. Hot-button issue dealt with in the most surface way imaginable? Check (domestic violence, no less). We know that we're not the target audience for this, but unless this turns out to be as serious surprise, we can't help but feel that the target audience deserve so much more than this kind of thing.
Release Date: February 14th
Synopsis: An engineer is sent to the escape-proof prison he designed, where he must team with another inmate to break out.
What You Need To Know: For much of the 1980s and 1990s, action fans dreamed of a potential team-up of their two great idols, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, but the only hint of it came with their pairing on the Planet Hollywood restaurant. Now they're getting on a bit, and Schwarzenegger has returned to acting from politics, the wish was finally granted, but to no great effect, in the two "Expendables" movies, and unfortunately there's not much reason to think that "The Tomb" will be much of an improvement. Penned by Miles Chapman ("Road House 2") and Jason Keller ("Machine Gun Preacher"), and directed by Mikael Hafstrom (who was behind the enjoyable "1408," but whose follow-up, "Shanghai," was so bad it never got a U.S. release, and whose one after "The Rite," was so bad we wish it suffered the same fate), there's not a glittering roster of behind-the-scenes talent, and aside from a slumming-it Amy Ryan, the rest of the cast list -- 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel, Vinnie Jones -- stinks of DTV action. Maybe it'll surprise us, but right now, it seems to be somewhere between "Prison Break" and a version of "Death Race" without the cars, and as such, pretty definitively inessential.
Release Date: September 27th
[Dis]Honorable Mentions: There's plenty of other stuff we're unsure of, including most of the films on the slate for January, including "Texas Chainsaw 3D," "Gangster Squad" (sorry, great cast, but this was bumped to January for a good reason), "A Haunted House," "Mama," "Movie 43" and "Parker." February's not much more fun either, with "Escape From Planet Earth," "Snitch" and one of several Tyler Perry films set for release.
March brings Steve Carell atop a strong cast in the promising-on-paper, less-so-in-trailer-form "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," and Halle Berry will take "The Call," while "Scary Movie 5" arrives in April, for our sins. "The Smurfs 2" lands in July, only just beaten to the punch for the title of the year's least-essential sequel by "Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters." Ethan Hawke continues his descent into Nicolas Cage-dom with "Getaway" in August, with "Insidious Chapter Two," "Satanic" and the "One Direction" 3D concert movie all arriving on the same day.
In September, we get "Battle of the Year 3D," a breakdancing movie starring Chris Brown and Josh Peck that we're yet to be convinced isn't an elaborate parody. The second two "Star Wars" prequels get 3D re-releases in September and October, joining "Jurassic Park" and "The Little Mermaid" as new-money-for-old-rope 3D re-releases. In October, "Haunts" wins the title of the year's most generically-named horror film, but it may yet be better than "Paranormal Activity 5." And Robert De Niro seems to be set on proving that "Silver Linings Playbook" wasn't the start of some kind of creative comeback, with "The Big Wedding" followed by "Malavita" in October and "Last Vegas" in December. Finally, at the end of the year, we're not sure about "47 Ronin," given its tumultous production history, but we're intrigued enough by the basic concept that we don't want to write it off entirely.