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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Christian Slater, Jason Momoa, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
DIRECTED BY
Walter Hill
SCREENPLAY
Alessandro Camon, Alexis Nolent, Walter Hill
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
91 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Warner Brothers
DVD EXTRAS
"Bullet to the Head: Mayhem Inc." featurette.

 "Bullet to the Head" Doesn't Quite Hit Its Mark 
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Director Walter Hill is considered by many in Hollywood to be a legend thanks to such films as The Long Riders, The Warriors and Southern Comfort along with acclaimed films such as 48 Hours and Hard Times. Sure, there have been the "other" films that we don't like to mention like Crossroads, Streets of Fire, Brewster's Millions and a few others that have tainted at least slightly the name of a filmmaker whose ability to film action is at least semi-legendary.

Sylvester Stallone? Well, he's made just about the best movie about thumb wrestling that Hollywood has ever seen along with a few other films, some acclaimed and some downright ridiculed.

Pairing Stallone and Hill seems so downright obvious it's a wonder that no one's thought of it before now.

Bullet to the Head looks and feels like a hardcore action flick created by two folks who are no longer at the top of their game but who are still inspired and energetic enough to create a film that's interesting even when it's not particularly entertaining.

In fact, Bullet to the Head is not entertaining quite a bit of the time. Based upon a French graphic novel, Bullet to the Head works, somewhat surprisingly, because much of the time Stallone himself nails just the right tone to give the film a touch of wit and the humor that is so woefully lacking from the Expendables films. Stallone is Jimmy Bobo, a hitman whose partner (Jimmy Seda) dies.

The same thing happens to a cop, Kwon (Sung Kang), and because this is an action flick non-reliant on anything resembling logic or reality the two end up uniting forces to go after their common enemy.

Bullet to the Head is basically a twist on the buddy angle that Hill used successfully in 48 Hours, less successfully in this picture. It's pretty much miraculous that at the age of 66-years-old Stallone still makes a convincing action star, while it's almost heartbreaking to say that Christian Slater, once a successful and well regarded actor, comes off rather timidly in a film where the supporting actors truly are secondary players. Still, after the notoriety that Slater received for having appeared in last year's "lowest grossing film," I can't even remember its name, it's quite welcome to see Slater at least in a film with some box-office potential.

Stallone has a decent, though not particularly memorable, chemistry with sidekick Sung Kang here, though the Asian stereotypes and racist humor gets old rather quickly. Stallone also has a rather warm chemistry with Sarah Shahi, whose performance as Jimmy's daughter gives the film what little actual emotion it possesses. Among the actual action players here, Jason Momoa fares best and is easily the most violent character on the screen as the enforcer for one seriously bad dude (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Momoa is probably familiar to most as Conan the Barbarian, though this could be the film that convinces Hollywood to toss some more action work his way.

Hill is definitely not at the top of his game here, though he handles the gun play decently enough and has certainly added a spark to Stallone's performance. While his car chases and hand-to-hand combat feel a bit old school, the film's decent enough to remind us of the brilliant filmmaker he once was and just how good Stallone can be when he's working with a truly talented filmmaker.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
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