Action Movie Fanatix Review: Bullet to the Head

Bullet to the Head banner

Revenge Never Gets Old.

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Holt McCallany

Director: Walter Hill

2013  |  92 Minutes  |  Rated R

“When I’m done with this drink, I’m done with you.” – Jimmy Bobo

Bullet to the Head was supposed to mark the reemergence of Walter Hill, one of the great action directors of our time.  It was also one of Sylvester Stallone’s post-Rocky Balboa, post-Rambo, post-Expendables 1 & 2 return to the action genre without a major franchise behind him.  Well, the film performed poorly and was critically panned?  Was it as bad as the critics said?  Can Stallone still kick ass?  Can Walter Hill still direct the hell out of an action feature?  Let’s find out.

Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone), a New Orleans hitman, is forced to team with Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), a police detective, to track down the men who murdered both of their partners.

Stallone has been called one dimensional many times before but after watching Bullet to the Head it’s clear that this is not 100% true.  Sure, the guy only does action movies.  Does that mean that every action character he plays is exactly the same?  Not a chance.  Let’s look at his past few roles.

John Rambo has a long, complicated history.  He’s been through hell and a piece of hell stuck with him.  Rocky Balboa is a former champ, making one last go at the top.  Barney Ross is a guy who has lived his entire life getting paid to make war and all he has to show for it is his fellow Expendables… and a nice motorcycle.

Now, we are introduced to James Bonomo, or Jimmy Bobo for short.  Jimmy Bobo is another guy who gets paid to take lives.  That part is similar to some of Stallone’s other roles.  The big difference I saw brought to this character was his sense loneliness and regret.  He doesn’t have much of a relationship with his daughter to speak of.  He’s also nearing the end of his career and there is a feeling of him not knowing what will be next in his life.  And Stallone really pulls this all out of the role in a way that I don’t think many other actors could.

Alongside Jimmy is Taylor Kwon, the cop.  This is a pretty limited role for Sung Kang but I thought he did his best with it.  One of the highlights of Bullet to the Head, to me, was the constant buddy banter going back and forth between Jimmy and Kwon.  It kept me laughing throughout the whole movie.

The normally outstanding Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje falls a little flat in his role as something of a mafia boss.  This role of a mob boss just doesn’t fit the loveable badass Mr. Eko.

Luckily Jason Momoa is pitch perfect in his role as Keegan, the bad guy hitman.  He’s ruthless.  He’s like a big barbarian brought to the modern day and getting a paycheck to be a nasty sonuvagun.  He’s the perfect antithesis to Stallone’s Jimmy Bobo.

THE scene that everyone will remember from Bullet to the Head will, of course, be the axe fight between Jimmy Bobo and Keegan.  It’s one of those scenes that can only happen in an action movie but it’s these scenes that make us love the genre so much.

Bullet to the Head did feel like it was missing a little something, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it was.  It does, however, have tons of style thanks to director Walter Hill.  Hill hadn’t been in the director’s seat since 2002’s Undisputed.  Directing must be like riding a bike for Hill because everything about Bullet to the Head looked professional.

Bullet to the Head proves that everyone involved still have it.  Stallone, Walter Hill, Jason Momoa – all great.  Is it Stallone’s best movie of all time?  Nope, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve its place up on my DVD shelf right next to all his other classics.

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