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Review: Bullet to the Head (John Fallon's review)

Jan. 29, 2013by: The Arrow


[read Chris Bumbray's review of this film HERE]

PLOT: A veteran hit man (Sylvester Stallone) and a "by the book" cop (Sung Kang) team up when the bad guys they’re both seeking happen to be the same gents. BANG, DOWN, OWNED ensues!

REVIEW: I worship old school action films (from the 70’s, 80’s and to some degree the 90’s) so to say that I was pumped for BULLET TO THE HEAD (based on Alexis Nolent's French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete) would be an understatement! I was counting down the days till its release. How I could I not? It’s directed by man’s man action director WALTER HILL, who’s responsible for some of my favorite movies of all time: Hard Times, The Driver, The Long Riders, 48 Hours, Extreme Prejudice, Johnny Handsome and the list goes on. And on top of that, it stars my number one childhood idol Sylvester Stallone, who inspired me on so many levels while growing up (and still does to this day). Granted, he's made some average to shitty movies i.e. Avenging Angelo, D-Tox, Daylight, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Get Carter, The Specialist and Rocky V but what he contributed to the world of action cinema (I can start and stop at the Rambo and Rocky franchises, but I'll toss Cobra, Lock Up and Demolition Man in the mix for shits and giggles) more than outweights the occasional turkeys. So Sly and Hill on one movie, a match made in testosterone madness heaven! Only question is: why did it take so long?! I am happy that it finally went down. So did the film deliver? Well... I had a freaking blast!

BULLET TO THE HEAD was nothing original in terms of storyline, but that was okay being that it gave me exactly what I craved from it, starting with Sylvester Stallone on top of his game. Sly was hilarious here, he nailed all of his dead pan one-liners, his acting was on the ball and when it came time to throw down, he did it like it was 1986 all over again. He is a pro at this stuff and I was reminded here why his name is synonymous with ACTION. It also helped that at 66 years old, he was in better shape than his much younger co-star Jason Momoa (33 years old) and my whole family combined. Look up "ripped" in the dictionary, there's Sly.

On his end Walter Hill, who helped define the buddy action movie with 48 HOURS and tried to capture the magic again with ANOTHER 48 HOURS and RED HEAT (but failed in my opinion), was "on" here. Hill milked his New Orleans locations for all they were worth resulting in moody imagery. Moreover, he conveyed exposition in clever ways while his action scenes were shot in an old school manner with the brutality quota cranked up to f*ck yeah! The hand-to-hand fights were harsh and bloody (I loved how more often than none, the score would vanish when fisticuffs erupted, it gave them more oomph), the gun fights were grisly (loved the squibs here, CG or not, they looked great to me) and shit blew up real good. Hill hasn't lost his touch! Add to all that love, female nudity galore (there was so much TNA here, I almost threw coins at the screen), Sung Kang playing off Stallone ideally, Jason Momoa making for a captivating and badass villain (the camera loved him and his axe fight with Sly was pure macho genius - he put them Conan/Khal Drogo sword skills to good use), hottie Sarah Shahi bringing depth to what could have been a "nothing" role (she also dropped her bottom and top, nice), hilarious one-liners right, left and centre and a groovy appearance by Christian Slater and you get a fun, gripping and gleefully violent retro actionner that so hit the spot!

Any peeves? To be honest, I didn’t care much about the WHY behind all of the tomfoolery. This bad boy definitely didn’t try to step out of its 80’s/90’s mold as I saw EVERY TURN coming from MILES away. Yup, it wasn't where I was going that had me by the jewels, it was how I got there. Although that takes away points, at the same time, it was okay. It’s like that old Big Mac saying: When I buy a Big Mac, I know exactly what I’m going to get...a damn Big Mac, right down to that delicious slice of pickle. Same thing here. I saw the trailer, I saw 48 HOURS, I'm a fan of Stallone and Hill and I know my 80's action. So yeah, I had a very good idea of what I was going to get and BULLET TO THE HEAD gunned out just that; a funny, down and dirty buddy/action film with no pretences or illusions as to what it was. Nothing wrong with that!  

So all in all, although BULLET TO THE HEAD didn’t bring anything new to the chopping block when it comes to buddy action films, it delivered the familiar with charm, gusto and class! It was better than Hill's Arnie/Belushi buddy movie RED HEAT and I dug it more than the somewhat  similarly themed ASSASSINS starring Stallone. If you’re a fan of of Sly, enjoy Walter Hill's body of work and are into 80's action...all I gotta say is...  ENJOY! 

Extra Tidbit: Look out for still pictures of Stallone from A Night at Kitties, First Blood, Rambo and I'm sure more in the film! Pretty funny!
Source: JoBlo.com

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11:38AM on 02/01/2013
While I somewhat enjoyed this it was a bit too boring for me and Stallone did seem kinda bored to me but thats just me, also one more Arrow you said it was actual squibs but I could have sworn that all the bullet hits were mostly cg at least they looked it
While I somewhat enjoyed this it was a bit too boring for me and Stallone did seem kinda bored to me but thats just me, also one more Arrow you said it was actual squibs but I could have sworn that all the bullet hits were mostly cg at least they looked it
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11:35AM on 02/01/2013
While I somewhat enjoyed this it was a bit too boring for me and Stallone did seem kinda bored to me but thats just me, also one more Arrow you said it was actual squibs but I could have sworn that all the bullet hits were mostly cg at least they looked it
While I somewhat enjoyed this it was a bit too boring for me and Stallone did seem kinda bored to me but thats just me, also one more Arrow you said it was actual squibs but I could have sworn that all the bullet hits were mostly cg at least they looked it
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4:43PM on 01/29/2013
Can we just all agree that Arrow should be the only one reviewing action movies on the site?
Can we just all agree that Arrow should be the only one reviewing action movies on the site?
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7:45PM on 01/29/2013
yup agreed
yup agreed
11:12AM on 01/31/2013
Count me in; I rarely disagree with him
Count me in; I rarely disagree with him
10:37AM on 01/29/2013

Great Review!

I can't wait to see this. I too am a HUGE fan of the 80's action movies and I expect to really enjoy this. Sometimes getting exactly what you expect from a movie isn't a bad thing.
I can't wait to see this. I too am a HUGE fan of the 80's action movies and I expect to really enjoy this. Sometimes getting exactly what you expect from a movie isn't a bad thing.
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9:45AM on 01/29/2013
DAYLIGHT WAS SO GOOD. How could you hate it? Auto neutral comment.
DAYLIGHT WAS SO GOOD. How could you hate it? Auto neutral comment.
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+10
6:38AM on 01/29/2013
Chris Bumbray gave this movie 5/10 and Arrow gave it 7/10. Around 5-7/10 is good enough for me.
Chris Bumbray gave this movie 5/10 and Arrow gave it 7/10. Around 5-7/10 is good enough for me.
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6:07AM on 01/29/2013
Happy to read the positive review.
PS: Red Heat is great!
Happy to read the positive review.
PS: Red Heat is great!
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7:17AM on 01/29/2013
I used to love Red Heat but i watched it a couple days ago and it was kinda flat.... didn't age well. But that's just me.
I used to love Red Heat but i watched it a couple days ago and it was kinda flat.... didn't age well. But that's just me.
10:40AM on 01/29/2013
I like Red Heat too, but I need to re-watch it since it's been a while since I saw it last.
I like Red Heat too, but I need to re-watch it since it's been a while since I saw it last.
3:08AM on 01/31/2013
Well, I've seen Red Heat a couple of times but I haven't seen it in many years so I can't say for sure how it holds up but I do remember very well the first half and it was very solid and great fun; I can't really remember very well the second half so I guess it's time to check it out; I know that you like Arnold and you really know your movies so maybe you are right but still we can all agree that there was a time when Red Heat was indisputably great to all of us who love 80's action movies.
Well, I've seen Red Heat a couple of times but I haven't seen it in many years so I can't say for sure how it holds up but I do remember very well the first half and it was very solid and great fun; I can't really remember very well the second half so I guess it's time to check it out; I know that you like Arnold and you really know your movies so maybe you are right but still we can all agree that there was a time when Red Heat was indisputably great to all of us who love 80's action movies.
+1
3:44AM on 01/29/2013
I am going to disagree with a number of things here. Firstly, Stallone was NOT at his best here. In fact, I haven't been this bored with Stallone since Get Carter. While he was physically way up there, his entire performance through the entire film wasn't the least bit interesting. I'll compare The Last Stand. With that, we got an Arnold who still seemed to have a passion for what he was doing. There was sort of a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to his line delivery. Here, even with Stallone having to
I am going to disagree with a number of things here. Firstly, Stallone was NOT at his best here. In fact, I haven't been this bored with Stallone since Get Carter. While he was physically way up there, his entire performance through the entire film wasn't the least bit interesting. I'll compare The Last Stand. With that, we got an Arnold who still seemed to have a passion for what he was doing. There was sort of a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to his line delivery. Here, even with Stallone having to be a hard ass with deadpan line delivery, I didn't get even an inkling that he was actually passionate about this project. His character was a boring, seemingly tired pile of cliches that couldn't hold my interest in the slightest. His chemistry with Sung Kang was forced and almost non-existant. With films like 48 Hours, we got relationships that built over time with the chemistry building off one another. Here, it never once felt like Kang and Stallone had any of that. They were two one note characters forced in a situation for the purpose of the story. Even the action was boring. It was completely unoriginal, sans ax fight, and there didn't seem to be a spark of creativity in a single action scene, except for maybe the level of brutality that the film went to. Bullet was mediocre at best. I love those 80's and 90's action films, but this was so boring, I about forgot it when I left the theater. Maybe if you're truly craving an action film like they used to make em, this will fill the void that has been empty in your life, but you'd be better off seeing The Last Stand if you haven't already seen it.
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7:22AM on 01/29/2013
Well there's the difference; I found Sly and the action very entertaining. And when I left the theatre I already wanted to buy the Blu-Ray. PS: I loved The Last Stand.
Well there's the difference; I found Sly and the action very entertaining. And when I left the theatre I already wanted to buy the Blu-Ray. PS: I loved The Last Stand.
+11
2:40AM on 01/29/2013

Amen Arrow!

Do more reviews bud, especially for this genre, cause other people are tearing action films apart.
I get it, its not they're not the greatest "films" but when you review an action film, review it based on its genre! No action film has depth, and arch's, and so on.. Mindless action, Blood, Nudity, Explosions, and all that noise!!!
Do more reviews bud, especially for this genre, cause other people are tearing action films apart.
I get it, its not they're not the greatest "films" but when you review an action film, review it based on its genre! No action film has depth, and arch's, and so on.. Mindless action, Blood, Nudity, Explosions, and all that noise!!!
Your Reply:



+5
2:18AM on 01/29/2013
Better than Red Head? I loved that movie (great chemistry between Belushi and Arnie, gritty Action, tits and Arnie in a tailormade role as badass russian)! Guess I have to see this one!
Better than Red Head? I loved that movie (great chemistry between Belushi and Arnie, gritty Action, tits and Arnie in a tailormade role as badass russian)! Guess I have to see this one!
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