Bullet to the Head Review
by Jake Peffer
Actor-director Sylvester Stallone has been trying to make a resurgence over the last few years now. He’s brought back his two most iconic characters in the forms of Rocky Balboa and Rambo, and he’s also had fairly good success thus far with his Expendables franchise. Now we have Stallone teaming up with director Walter Hill (48 Hrs., The Warriors) for a sort-of throwback to 80s cop thrillers with Bullet to the Head. Sadly, neither Stallone nor Hill can recapture their old magic to make this a worthy crime thriller.
Stallone stars a Jimmy Bobo, a New Orleans hitman who recently lost his partner in crime after his latest job where they murdered a corrupt police officer. Washington D.C. Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) has come to New Orleans to investigate the murder of the corrupt officer. Kwon discovers that the officer was murdered by Jimmy and his partner, and he tries to confront Jimmy, but things don’t go well and Jimmy ends up having to save Kwon. Eventually, they agree to work together to try and take down their common enemy, Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and his team — which includes Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater) and Keegan (Jason Momoa), the man who killed Jimmy’s partner.
There really isn’t a lot to discuss about Bullet to the Head. It’s your average, run-of-the-mill crime thriller that couldn’t be more generic if it tried. Two people from different backgrounds have to come together to stop a common enemy; we’ve seen this story way too many times before, but we’ve also seen it done much better. Director Walter Hill directed one of my all-time favorite movies, The Warriors, and he is a competent director, but somehow with this it feels as if he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing. It doesn’t help matters that the script is quite bad, and almost every actor that appears isn’t even trying.
This has a somewhat decent cast, but aside from Stallone most of them aren’t given much to do and even with what they are given they don’t do enough with it. Even though Stallone gets the most to do, he does a pretty bad job here. He is capable of more but he’s just going through the motions here — trying to play his usual tough guy. His chemistry with Sung Kang doesn’t work all that well either. Although Kang does seem to be the only actor trying, the scenes with him and Stallone are mostly forgettable. The villains here are pretty weak, even though a couple of them are capable of much more. Christian Slater shows up for a few scenes, but, like every recent Slater performance, it’s very forgettable. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is underused as usual, and Jason Momoa may be the lamest supposed action star I’ve seen in a while.
It’s not that this couldn’t have been good, it just ultimately fails on almost all levels. There are some decent actions scenes here and there and a couple of moments with some funny dialogue. I can also give credit to the film being barely an hour and a half, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. For this to be the first Stallone film in recent years that isn’t part of a franchise or involving one of his characters from the 80s, it is definitely a disappointment.
Verdict: Bullet to the Head is just another routine crime thriller. There’s nothing about it to recommend unless you are a very big Sylvester Stallone fan or you really like 80s crime films and want to see this throwback.