REVIEW: BULLET TO THE HEAD
SYNOPSIS: Based on a graphic novel, "Bullet to the Head" tells the story of a New Orleans hitman (Sylvester Stallone) and a Washington D.C. cop (Sung Kang) who form an alliance to bring down the killers of their respective partners.
REVIEW: Director Walter Hill (48Hrs, 1982) brings us this less than stylistic throwback-to-an-eighties action flick; based on Alexis Nolent's French graphic novel “Du Plomb Dans La Tete.” Hill seems to be a strong director with a history of elevating run-of-the-mill genre pieces by injecting them with broad scope storylines and a type character-driven approach to action-flick storytelling. However, somehow his style didn’t work for this latest release, very well. I would even go one step further and say that his casting Sylvester Stallone, in the lead role, has hurt this production tremendously. Moreover and somewhat arguably, Sly’s acting and action style is too deeply rooted in the eighties to have any real relevance to today’s action movies.
I find it quite interesting that in this latest flick, Stallone appears in his first non-franchise-driven (franchises - Expendables, Rocky or Rambo) role, since 2001. It kinda’ feels like a little more than coincidence that this release arrives in theaters right between Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand" and the upcoming release of Bruce Willis' latest "Die Hard." One could surmise that this movie provides Sly the chance to stretch outside his franchise-driven comfort zone and parks him squarely in the midst of the return of the “eighties-action-icons club.” A questionable return, I would argue.
Not surprisingly, there is certainly the Mardi Gras spirit to Bullet to the Head, which soaks up the carnival-like glamour and mystery that's so characteristic of New Orleans (or the version of it that we've grown accustomed to seeing on-screen). However, this did nothing for the movie, in my opinion, and to that end it probably took away from the overall quality of the movie in an extremely distracting manner. Furthermore, the plot and narrative conventions are extremely rigid and robotic and make the movie feel like it is going down some sort of checklist, and resulting in an extremely predictable climax.
Bullet to the Head does offer some bits and pieces of panache in a clumsy New Orleans-esque sorta’ way and action ebbs and flows with some sequences being pretty cool and others just simply being dreadful to watch (i.e. the axe duel). Despite the many shortcomings of the tale and its lead actor, Hill’s efforts do not go totally unnoticed though. The supporting actors seem to make up for some lost ground while the overall essence of the movie rings through with the odd pairing of good guys and bad guys to achieve some level of closure to the insanity of the storyline.
Largely because of the Hill’s movie-making style and effort, the movie is not a total lost and does have some merit. I believe this is more of a weekend type of movie rental and would be a waste of time and money, to watch in theaters. Three out of five stars is the best this flick could ever expect to achieve.
By Movi-Man Stan
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