Bullet to the Head Review: A Predictable, Sloppy, and Outdated Stallone Movie
In the 1970s and 80s, Sylvester Stallone and director Walter Hill dominated the cinematic scene with various action movies and buddy comedies. Their latest movie, Bullet to the Head
, attempts to recapture the spirit of the 80s but ends up feeling outdated, never attempting to reinvent or modernize this type of movie.
In the New Orleans underworld, James Bonomo (Stallone), a.k.a. Jimmy Bobo, is a hitman who lives by a certain code of ethics: He does not kill women or children. After Jimmy’s partner, Louis (Jon Seda), is killed by a ruthless mercenary (Jason Momoa), Jimmy wants revenge. He finds an unusual ally in the form of Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), and their investigation leads to a wider conspiracy involving an African gangster (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje) and network of corrupt politicians and police officers.
Hill is best known for director 48 Hours
and the cult classic The Warriors
and producing the “Alien” movies. With Bullet to the Head,
he brings in a neo-noir style filled with dark, neon visuals and uses a brooding Stallone voiceover. But on the whole Bullet to the Head
is a dull, predictable experience. For a movie that is led by one of the biggest action stars in the world, the action is infrequent, and when it is on screen, its quick cuts and close-up shots make it hard to tell what's going on.
The screenplay is ordinary — featuring plot points that you will see coming from a mile away. Bullet to the Head
is such a predictable movie that, despite the graphic violence you'll see, it'll likely leave your audience bored.
It was clear that Hill and Stallone wanted to make a movie similar to Cobra,
but what we get is a movie that treats itself too seriously. It's a movie that needed to be let loose, but it played more as an investigation movie with some buddy comedy elements as Bobo and Taylor quest around the city. The movie is the most fun when Momoa is in full killer mode.
The buddy relationship between Bobo and Taylor plays on three levels — profession, age and race. Both men argue about their methods — Bobo's willingness to kill and use violence differs greatly from Taylor's law-abiding view on the justice. The other element is Bobo’s use of old-fashioned methods (relying on his knife) compared to Taylor’s reliance on his cell phone. The writing attempts to give the pair a witty rapport, and it does provide the laughs as the movie constantly sides with Bobo.
Despite Stallone’s resurgence as an actor, Bullet to the Head
is a step back for him. He offers a lazy performance that's meant as a throwback to his movies of the 80s, movies that took themselves too seriously. The acting across the board, actually, is subpar, but Akinnouye-Agbaje’s performance was particularly embarrassing as a gangster limping around on crutches. It was really a role meant for an older actor.
On the whole, Bullet of the Head
attempts to be a stylish throwback, a movie that wanted to bring the grimy thrillers of the 1980s to the internet age. But what we have is a sloppy movie that will disappoint people who want a fun B-movie. Stallone and Hill have made better movies in the past, and if you think you're interested in Bullet to the Head
, you might want to check one of those older films instead. Stallone certainly needs to step away from this type of movie if he wants to expand his career from his existing franchises.