By Gary “Slug to the Derriere” Murray

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa and Christian Slater

Written by Alessandro Camon and based on the graphic novel by Alexis Nolent

Directed by Walter Hill

Running time 91 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Matinee


One forgets that Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky, the Academy Award winning film.  He is best known for grunting and mumbling his way through a series of action-adventure films in the 1980s and 1990s.  His resume includes flicks such as Cliffhanger, Judge Dredd and Demolition Man.  It escapes most movie fans that he has shown some wider range in Assassins, Cop Land and Oscar

Lately, he has taken on smaller roles and ensemble works.  His turn in The Expendables franchise still proves that the man has some box office clout.  His latest step back into action-hero superstardom is the very brutal Bullet to the Head.

The film starts with a voice-over and the first of several killings.  We soon find out that Sly is James Bonorno, a low-level hit man in Baton Rouge, LA.  He and his partner have finished a job and are waiting to get paid.  The work they perform is not pretty or nice but it is a way to make money.

At the seedy Cajun bar, the men are attacked and James barely escapes.  Very soon he realizes that he was set-up by the contract issuer and his life is in jeopardy.  He lost his partner, has not been paid and is very upset about both developments.

Added into the mix is Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang).  He is a by-the-book cop on an investigation to figure out how a series of murders in another city are connected to Baton Rouge.  The local cops are not interested and not willing to help.  Very soon Kwon and Bonorno meet. 

Each has something the other wants and both eventually want the same thing—justice.  It is just that Kwon wants legal justice and Bonorno wants street justice.  Both men do not trust the other and both know that an evitable confrontation between them will eventually happen.  They just have to work together, for now.

The two men follow the clues of the deaths, a trail of blood that leads to a crooked lawyer (Christian Slater) and a crooked deal straight out of Broken City.  The plot of the film feels more than a bit derivative than original.  But the endpoint of the film is just a frame to hand action on.

With a title like Bullet to the Head, one should know what you are getting into and the film delivers on that level.   This is a very violent film, not meant for children or the squeamish.  This is a vicious action thriller with loads of dead bodies and flying plasma.  Though there are not the scores of bodies that permeate a Rambo flick, the dead do pile up eventually.

Walter Hill was the director the great cult classic Streets of Fire as well as such hits as The Warriors, Another 48 Hrs and Red Heat.   Here he shows off his skill set as an action director plus a few tricks he has picked-up by watching others in his producer role.  Walter Hill keeps up a brisk pace as he pushes from scene to scene.   He knows that he is not making art but delivering a product to the masses.

Even as a senior citizen, Sly Stallone still cuts an impressive figure.  He looks the part of the buff and brazen action star and has not aged like some of his fellow elder statesmen of action cinema.  With his tight shirt showing tones muscles, it is as if Sly has beaten the aging process and will live, young and strong, forever.  It must be massive amounts of testosterone.

January has seen The Last Stand and now with Bullet to the Head.   It feels as if the 1980s are back.  That may or may not be a good thing.  Many films of that decade were just terrible, full of over-acting and joking asides.  While this is not a great film, it is a decent diversion, not much more. 


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