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

Bullet to the Head (John Fallon's review)
01.29.2013
7 10


[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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