LAST week Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to the big screen with a bang, demonstrating that he has no intention of growing old gracefully; now his musclebound rival, Sylvester Stallone, 66, attempts the same feat in Walter Hill’s relentlessly violent thriller.

Based on a graphic novel, the film tells the story of Stallone’s tortured hero, tattooed hitman Jimmy Bobo, as he embarks on his suicidal crusade for vengeance.

He and partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) kill a corrupt ex-cop as instructed and then celebrate in a New Orleans bar where hulking assassin Keegan (Jason Momoa) stabs Louis and badly injures Jimmy.

Hungry for revenge, Jimmy tracks down people in the criminal food chain who could have betrayed him and Louis. All paths seem to lead to a powerful property developer, Robert Nkomo Borel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).

Meanwhile, strait-laced detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives in New Orleans to apprehend Jimmy before the two men are forced to work together when Jimmy’s daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi) is abducted by Keegan.

Some critics have said the film is uninspired, putting Stallone through the physical wringer in well-choreographed skirmishes, but admit that some one-liners elicit a wry smile.