Bullet to the Head is a long-awaited match-up of Hollywood veterans, Walter Hill and Sylvester Stallone. Walter Hill directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in Red Heat and Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing, so it was only fitting that he complete The Expendables 2 triumvirate with Sylvester Stallone in Bullet to the Head.
Stallone’s had a good run of form rebooting Rocky and Rambo, with a tongue-in-cheek tribute to action men with The Expendables, which is about to become a trilogy. The Italian Stallion’s used to playing tough guys and with that sucker punch accent and brute physique who can blame him? He brings his old school charm and experience to Bullet to the Head, but unfortunately it’s not enough.
Bullet to the Head is a loose adaptation of the graphic novel, Headshot (Du plomb dans la tête). Part buddy movie and part crime thriller, the film lies somewhere between Rush Hour and one of those stone cold straight-to-video WWE actioners in a story, which sees a hitman (Stallone) and detective (Kang) join forces to take down a common enemy.
The Rush Hour buddy movie dynamic draws a New Orleans-based Italian-American and a Washington D.C. detective of Korean descent together, much like Hill’s 48 Hrs. As the tag team gets into gear, there are several comedic moments resulting from mistrust and prejudice. However, they don’t have Jackie Chan’s legs or Chris Tucker’s motormouth to play up the action comedy, making this one more about getting down to business.
“I… preferred… Arnie… as Conan.”
Bullet to the Head is better than most WWE action hero vehicles. The casting alone is an improvement as Sylvester Stallone’s mere presence, Sung Kang’s equal opposite contrast and Jason Momoa’s intimidating physique and cold-blooded determination carry much of the story. Add some solid action set pieces and better-than-average production values and you’ve got yourself a gritty little crime thriller.
Hill adds some flair to the action scenes ranging from Eastern Promises style hand-to-hand bath house combat to a firefighter axe duel that wouldn’t be out-of-place in The Expendables. It’s a trigger-happy foray into the criminal underground as a yin-yang double team get payback in style.
Bullet to the Head is mostly entertaining thanks to Stallone’s star power, some decent “haven’t we seen this somewhere before” crime drama, some mood-lightening buddy movie comedy and some well-worked action set pieces. However, everything is undermined by an out-of-sync conclusion.
While it’s refreshing to watch an action thriller of this calibre without Jason Statham, Bullet to the Head has a sting in its tail. The ‘it is what it is’ rule can only go so far and after coasting along at a good pace, Bullet to the Head fails to execute in the third act. The co-lead chemistry is disavowed like a bad one night stand and one of the central characters is hijacked by his evil twin, the end.
The bottom line: Unfinished
Release date: 17 May, 2013
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