When hitman Jimmy Bobo is double crossed and his partner killed, he must form an alliance with a by-the-book detective to find those responsible.
Old school action flick Bullet to the Head is a damn exciting prospect for two different reasons. First of all it’s Stallone’s first major solo action outing (ie. Expendable free) in a good few years. The second, doubly exciting factor is that it is the big screen directorial comeback for one of the masters of the action genre, one Walter Hill, a director of countless classics who took a serious time out after removing his name from the final edit of sci-fi horror turd Supernova. These are two excellent reasons to get excited for Bullet to the Head. Unfortunately, there are an equal amount of problems with Bullet… that conspire to make it a minor disappointment, and they are as follows…
A) Sung Kang, as Stallone’s sidekick/foil detective Kwon. Good lord, where to start. Kang’s performance is amongst the worst I have ever seen. It’s not just that he’s wooden and mangles his dialogue, it’s more that he’s a charisma vacuum SO powerful that he ruins other performances via osmosis. He’s so bland that he would be invisible were he not so clearly destroying the movie from the inside out. He is to entertainment what kryptonite is to Superman’s hard-on, and must be stopped. I hate him with all of my heart.
B) The fight scenes. The gunfights were great, no issue there. The hand to hand fights however were ruined by my greatest action movie nemesis, horrible over editing. It was a nightmare, like the scenes were edited with a paper shredder. Somebody hits something, most likely a person, I can’t tell. Something impacts against something else, it could be someone posting a letter in a hurry, I couldn’t tell you either way.
I understand that Stallone is advancing in years, but if he can’t do it then I don’t want so see the editing suite fake it. The Stallone vs Momoa axe duel finale is thankfully the least choppy action scene and actually delivers much of the promise that was in the trailer. Otherwise, unfortunately, it’s ADD action editing at its very worst.
The annoying thing is that much of the movie is great. Stallone for example, ever underrated, is terrific, his Jimmy Bobo is one of his more fully formed characters, had he been provided a decent foil it might have been great fun, but his back and forth with Kang dies two seconds after he finishes speaking and Kang begins.
The gunfights are a blessing, punchy, squibby, matter of fact brutal, when the bullets are flying so does the movie. I’d expect nothing less from Walter Hill of course, it’s just a shame that perhaps he had to edit around Stallone’s creaking bones for the fight scenes.
The supporting cast are great. Christian Slater is terrifically sleazy as one of the lower level bad guys. Brian Van Holt gives good slippery backstabber. Jason Momoa, though shortchanged in terms of screentime, is a fantastically threatening nemesis for Stallone, a gleefully brutal henchman of the type that has become too rare in recent years.
There’s plenty of trademark Walter Hill cool on display too, that feeling of a classic western reinvented in a dirty, sleazy southern style. That Bullet to the Head fails to reach the heights of his astonishing back catalogue of classic action flicks might be down to his extended absence from filmmaking, or studio pressure to make something more modern, I can’t say for sure.
Bullet to the Head is a good movie, watch it with some friends and a beer or two and I can almost guarantee you’ll have fun. It’s just a shame that the combination of an on form Stallone and action god Walter Hill didn’t provide something better than merely good.
Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sung Kang
Runtime: 92 min