Release: Friday, February 1, 2013
Funny enough, Mr. Stallone, revenge does start to get old once we catch on in this flick that this will probably be the only thing you’re going to be doing for the rest of your career. If Rocky’s story was all about some redemption, Sylvester Stallone would appear to be writing a story about his actual life that is quite contradictory. After all, this film doesn’t do much in the way of redeeming anything at all. And it certainly has no plans for giving back all the spilled blood to the fallen.
In this new Walter Hill-directed actioner, we literally get nothing new from Stallone, his opponents, and there’s barely a soul who wants to stand close enough to Stallone’s thuggier-than-ever anti-hero, James Bonomo, for us to even be able to tell if there’s a side we should be taking here. The short answer to that is there’s not really anyone worth cheering for. Everyone is basically as bad as one another in this super-bloody, gorier-than-expected cast-off film.
I’m sorry if I’m bashing hard against this film at the moment, but sometimes films are lacking the tough love from the critics when they [the films] lack love of any sort in the manner in which they were created. Sometimes you need to fight with axes to make your point. Oh wait. Hold on, no that’s actually something that happens in the film and as it turns out, that also serves as a decent metaphor for me to use in describing my overall disappointment with Bullet to the Head. Of course, no one’s biting their tongue harder than I am when people ask me, well what did you expect out of a Stallone picture? A modern Stallone picture, at that. Touché. I guess what I was hanging my hopes on was a fulfilling story involving the big brute, at least something for us to gnash our teeth into while watching Stallone do what he does best.
But Bullet to the Head is a rather empty project that spares no empathy towards those who get in James Bonomo’s path — let’s face it, it’s not going to be a plot spoiler if I tell you all the bad guys get their clocks cleaned. Twice. Stallone is playing the part of a rather powerful hit man who is on a mission to avenge his former partner’s death during a typical job. (Even writing that seems silly — I mean do these crazy bastards always expect for things to go smoothly all the time? Is that even logical, avenging a dead hit man?)
Anywho. . .
Stallone’s character is boring due to its incredible one-dimensional “I’m gonna kill ’em all” mentality. In fact I think those are some of his pithiest lines in the film: “I’m gonna kill you.” After going it alone for a long while, Bonomo takes on a second partner, of sorts, when an intelligent and virtually indestructible cop, Taylor (played by Sung Kang) comes upon the city of New Orleans after one of his partners ends up with X’s for eyes. It’s the perfect mismatched duo but it needed to be developed at considerable length for us to really have any fun with either of them — or trust the cop for things other than using his impressive trigger finger. Alas, this is the case for almost all of the elements in Bullet.
Despite Stallone’s inexplicable ability to look more epic every time he stands fully upright — although he’s pretty well-matched in physique with the likes of this Keegan character (Jason Momoa) and some of his henchmen — this film wastes a ton of potential in drawing out a truly sinister story where it could. Believe me, there’s violence and action aplenty — I couldn’t actually count the number of minutes spent on the fight sequences, but my bet is over 40 of them were dedicated to people’s asses just being kicked. That’s good stuff in and of itself, but as Stallone advances in age, audience expectations (or mine, anyway) are also advancing to higher levels.
As this film is based off of a graphic novel, the final result is even more disappointing in that there are no twists, turns or anything really unexpected and instead we follow it strictly by the rules set forth by most action films. I guess it’s alright though, because after seeing several scenes of graphic violence, we come to learn that Bonomo (or “Bobo”) has a really attractive daughter; he doesn’t really pay much attention to her though. I suppose that is only fitting for a movie that is so careless with its handling of potentially lethal material. If Hill paid as much attention to the details of dialogue and character-development as he did with the way people died in his movie, then perhaps we would have a ‘welcome back’ party for Sly, since this is his first major role that was not either Rocky or Rambo in over a decade (that also excludes his role in The Expendables).
Nope. In this case, not a single one of us will really care enough to do so much as play the kazoo to welcome him back to the big screen. We will have to wait until the next time around. And if someone would kindly take down all the banners and streamers, please. . . . .that was embarrassing I even thought to put those up here.
Recommendation: While not a total waste of a film, Bullet to the Head plays it safe and sticks to formulaic action drama. This is nothing significant to add to Stallone’s already impressively manly career. So I say go if you’re a big Stallone fan. But you may also want to bring a dictionary or a translator or something, because it’s starting to get hard to understand the guy.
Running Time: 91 mins.
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