Bullet to the Head (2013)
the directing: Walter Hill
the writing: Alessandro Camon
the acting: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa
If this year’s barrage of high octane action films have taught me anything, it would be to not expect much. I skipped this one when it was out in theaters, but knew I’d catch it later on redbox (laziness and ticket costs have caused this theme to frequent my life). I knew Bullet to the Head wasn’t going to be special – most of Walter Hill’s directoral efforts have evaded me and Alessandro Camon is pretty new to the game – but in the film’s defense the cast list assuredly seized my upmost attention (again, not necessarily because of quality, but rather pure action awesomeness). Boy was I wrong.
The film begins with blatant Pulp Fiction thievery as Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) and Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) prepare for a hit. It is at about this point where the plot begins to unravel… Okay, here goes the first act. They shoot somebody, but then decide not to shoot somebody else. They go to a bar, but the bar doesn’t have Bobo’s preferred whiskey, so obviously he goes to the bathroom. Apparently badman Keegan (Momoa) was miraculously already in the same bar and decides to stab Blanchard multiple times in the abdominal region – with minimal blood splatter and no witnesses I might add – then smoothly saunters his way to the bathroom after Bobo. But like most Stallone characters, Bobo is having none of that. He fights Keegan off, not really kicking his ass, but they do break everything possible in the bathroom. Then Detective Taylor Kwon (Kang) comes down from D.C. with his cell phone to investigate all said actions. So that’s act one.
Bullet to the Head honestly fails to peak any higher plot wise. Nothing resembles reality or expunges any amount of sense. More characters are introduced, but without real purpose, for many are simply killed off as quickly as they are introduced giving the audience little payoff or really just anything to care about in the slightest. Unfortunately, Hill tried to emulate the buddy cop genre, but serious. I can tell you it didn’t work. For many reasons, though only a few should suffice in making my point. For one, the chemistry between Stallone and Kang was… well let’s just say worse than the Cavill/Adams relationship in Man of Steel (yeah, no bueno). Honestly, it would not surprise me if the two had never met or talked prior to day one of filming, and I am aware of Stallone’s busy schedule, but efforts should have been made.
Then it seemed all “seriousness” came from the brutality of the violence rather than dialogue or situations. The film wanted to be taken seriously because of exploding heads or bullet holes in skin, or in writer’s speak “easement.” Actually, and once again, “easement” that does. not. work. On that note, there is nothing that takes me out of a film faster than awful, cheesy dialogue. You would never know this, but the decibel level of my sigh just now topped the charts. Man was the dialogue pitiful, absolutely ridiculous. I would quote you some examples, but the 91 minutes of runtime would make this the longest, most boring post of my non-existent writing career.
It got to the point where I felt bad, and mostly embarrassed for Camon. I know I said he was new to the game earlier, but this producer turned writer (so already we know, “quality”) has one other script under his belt of any importance, The Messenger. For which he was nominated for an Oscar along with writing partner, Oren Moverman. So it really makes me wonder how this script wound up the way it did – it also makes me wonder how much of the writing Moverman did for The Messenger.
I would not call it a saving grace by any means, but I will admit there was a pretty cool axe fight at the end of Bullet to the Head between Stallone and Momoa. The choreography was actually quite impressive and both actors seemed to know what they were doing. For those keeping track that is one in the plus column. But it is all the way at the end, so add another negative.
Like I said before, it was apparent from the start this film wasn’t going to be anything special. Still I was incredibly disappointed with what I saw. Stallone will always be a national treasure no matter what, but I was really looking forward to seeing Kang outside the Fast and Furious world and Momoa (well I mean come on, “Game of Thrones”). But I will keep waiting, and try to forget $55 million went into Bullet to the Head.
Worth renting: Hah no.