Bullet To The Head (2012)

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The hitman who is “let go” by his employer is something that happens all too often in action thrillers. Being a hitman isn’t exactly the safest and most secure way to get through life, yet hitmen still make for interesting and appealing lead characters. Perhaps it’s because they break the rules of society while adhering to their own particular code of conduct. Or maybe viewers feel buoyed by the thought of a “baddie” taking out worse baddies. Or it could be all down to Luc Besson.

In Bullet To The Head Sylvester Stallone plays a hitman, Jimmy Bobo, who is “let go” by his employer. He’s now wanted by the police and a determined mercenary (Jason Momoa) sent after him by those who set him up. Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why Bobo ends up working together with a cop (Sung Kang) to take down the bad guys and put things right.

Adapted from a graphic novel by Alexis Nolent and Colin Wilson, Bullet To The Head feels very much like a film from the late ’80s/early ’90s. Director Walter Hill, with a script by Alessandro Camon, gives viewers an old-fashioned buddy movie (or, as he would call it, an anti-buddy movie) with Stallone and Kang only managing to work together in between the time they spend antagonising one another, throwing insults around and pointing guns at each other.

While Kang may be just okay in his role, Stallone is fantastic. Of course, his character is more fun so the difference in the performances isn’t necessarily Kang’s fault. He does well enough as the decent cop looking to uphold the law, but Stallone gets to spit out a number of great lines with entertaining disdain. Jason Momoa makes for a fantastic opponent, I really hope that he continues to get decent roles in the action genre, and Christian Slater and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje are both enjoyable as two people on different levels of the criminal hierarchy responsible for upsetting Stallone’s character.

Fans of Walter Hill may be disappointed to see that this isn’t the director at his best, but knowing that Hill not on his best is the equal of many other action directors trying twice as hard is some comfort. He doesn’t really disappoint, even if he’s constantly walking in a large shadow cast by his own past glories, but he doesn’t really bring any new tricks to the table either. Strangely enough, that feeling of Hill just repeating what he does so well helps to make the film such a joy in these cinematic times when we see other directors running to keep up with fads, franchise temptations and, of course, the big 3D dollar.

Action fans need no bells and whistles detracting from fistfights and shoot outs. They want one thing and that’s quality action. Bullet To The Head delivers.

Bullet To The Head is released on disc here in the UK on 3rd June. The Bluray includes one featurette that runs for just under nine minutes entitled Bullet To The Head: Mayhem Inc – it’s standard fare that mixes some behind-the-scenes footage with soundbites from the cast and crew.

DIRECTOR: WALTER HILL
STARS: ALESSANDRO CAMON, BASED ON THE GRAPHIC NOVEL BY ALEXIS NOLENT AND COLIN WILSON
STARS: SYLVESTER STALLONE, SUNG KANG, SARAH SHAHI, ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE, JASON MOMOA, CHRISTIAN SLATER, JON SEDA, HOLT MCCALLANY, BRIAN VAN HOLT
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★½☆
DISC Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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