Mania Grade: C+
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- Rated: R
- Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Mamoa, Christian Slater
- Written By: Alessandro Camon
- Directed By: Walter Hill
- Original Year of Release: 2013
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Special Features: See Below
Bullet to the Head Blu-Ray Review
Walter Hill recycles 48 Hours
By Tim Janson
August 05, 2013
Walter Hill has been one of the best directors of gritty action films for forty years. He’s helmed such movies as The Driver (1978), The Warriors (1979), Southern Comfort (1981), Red Heat (1988), Last Man Standing (1996), and Undisputed (2002). With Bullet to the Head, Hill returns to the odd couple comedy/ action film he made most famous with 48 Hours in 1982, but with mixed results.
Hill recycles the cop and convict team-up formula that pairs Stallone as aging hitman Jimmy Bobo, with Washington D.C. Detective Taylor Kwon (Kang). In New Orleans, Bobo and his partner Louis have completed a hit on a corrupt cop who was Kwon’s former partner. While celebrating at a bar, Louis is killed by another hitman named Keegan (Mamoa). Kwon ‘s investigation leads him to Bobo where the two form an uneasy alliance to find out who wanted the cop dead and who killed Louis.
Fairly standard fare for movies of this type and left to those ends, Bullet to the Head might have been an enjoyable homage to those 1980’s action films whose fire Hill is clearly trying to rekindle. Unfortunately his choppy direction and the muddled script of Alessandro Camon, weighs down the script with far too many bad guys and plot elements. A corrupt businessman Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), his shyster lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater), and a local mob boss named Baby Jack, not to mention Mamoa’s character, all leave you wondering who the heck is the real antagonist.
In 48 hours you had wonderful comic interplay between Nick Nolte, who was a strong actor, and Eddie Murphy who is a great comedian. Bullet to the Head unfortunately has neither. Outside of a few chuck-inducing deadpan one-liners from Stallone, the comedy bits come off far too forced. When the two characters are not saving each other’s lives, they are threatening to kill each other in increasing hostile and unfunny ways.
For Mamoa, who enjoyed a short but memorable run in Game of Thrones, Bullet to the Head marks his first feature film since the disastrous Conan the Barbarian. He seems far more comfortable in this supporting role where he doesn’t have to carry the action. And frankly, he makes a much better villain anyway.
Of course an action film has to come down to the final battle between hero and villains and you have to at least give Walter points for originality for the film’s climactic fight. In The Warriors, it was a duel with baseball bats between The Warriors and the baseball uniform-wearing Furies. Here, Bobo and Keegan square off with fireman’s axes in an abandoned warehouse. And you have to give credit for Stallone as well who at 67 years of age, holds his own with Mamoa who is half his age.
There’s no doubt that some thirty years after his prime as an action film star Stallone is still a commanding presence on the screen. But while he was teamed with a host of diverse personalities in the two Expendables films, Sung Kang simply isn’t strong enough or charismatic enough to take the load off Sly.
Blu-Ray Special Features
Mayhem, Inc. (9:00) the only extra on the disc is primarily a promotional piece that features clips from the film, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews