Bullet Head (Movie Review)

PLOT: When a trio of low-rent thieves is forced to hideout in abandoned warehouse after a botched heist, they soon realize they’re not alone. A giant, rabid, blood-covered Pit Bull awaits them!

REVIEW: Eight years is a long time between now and when writer/director Paul Solet would GRACE the world with his fine feature debut, and now with his overdue return to the big-screen after a decade toiling in television, he’s again admirably sewn the thematic threads of loss and grief into a compelling quilt of a well-acted thrill-ride. Solet’s new film BULLET HEAD, which adheres to the long litany of heist-gone-wrong crime pictures, also boasts a genre-mashing, high-concept premise that frankly rides right up to the line and teeters on the precipice of serious and silliness, of ingenious and insipid. Yet because of the intimately detailed script and wonderful performances from its excellent leads, it’s easy to forgive the diegetic absurdities and enjoy the film for what it is. BULLET HEAD may indeed suffer some brain damage, but in the end, it shows no shortage of heart!

Set in the harsh winter of February, Stacy (Adrien Brody), Walker (John Malkovich) and Gage (Rory Culkin) find themselves on the lam after robbing a safe with a mere $30K locked away. After their wheelman crashes a getaway car in a dilapidated warehouse district of an unnamed city, the trio of thieves seeks refuge in the closest building they can find. Upon sheltering, they concoct a backup plan to crack the safe, divvy up the dough and carefully escape, one by one. Problem is, before they can hatch such a plot, it’s soon discovered that they aren’t alone in the warehouse. Turns out, an upscale crime boss (Antonio Banderas) has been running an illegal, high-stakes dog-fighting ring out this very location. And it just so happens that left behind is a very large, rapacious, blood-soaked pit bull with only a single strand encoded in his DNA: kill everything in sight!

As you can imagine, this puts our trio in quite the predicament. On one hand, it’s too risky to attempt an escape, especially when a patrol car makes the rounds to investigate the nearby crashed getaway vehicle. On the other, they cannot stay put with a rabid, flesh-eating beast perusing the halls of the warehouse. Sure, no less than a single gun is brandished, and would seem a very simple problem to solve by simply locking sights on the pit and blowing the sucker into smithereens. But alas, through some compellingly well scripted characterizations, such an option doesn’t come so easy to our three principals. Much is made how each is a dog person, rather than a cat lover, which goes a long way toward ultimately giving the killer canine great affection and clemency in the end. Odd, it would seem, until an end credit memorial to Paul Solet’s own deceased dog made his intentions from the onset quite clear. It’s a very strange story in which to pay tribute to a passing friend, but in the end, BULLET HEAD is just that, a heartfelt memorial to man’s best friend.

Speaking of, it’s easy to reduce this film to the simple logline of it being MAN’S BEST FRIEND (or CUJO) meets RESERVOIR DOGS, but honestly, it isn’t quite that either. While there are certainly grisly and gory outbursts of violence, where the movie excels most is during a series of brilliantly acted soliloquies all three main actors gets to sink their teeth into – memorialized monologues you’d say – in which we get to hear, see and feel, in flashback, what motivates each man. Rory Culkin gives a credible turn as a heroin junkie with an abusive past, and particularly shines during his one emotionally ravaging speech about his dogged attempt to save a mangy pooch as a six year old boy. Likewise for Brody, who serves as the heart and soul of the piece, he gives a number of emotively moving monologues, one of which justifies how and why he became such a dog lover in the first place.

As for Malkovich, how often has he ever come up short of greatness? Here he gives an understated turn as a career con who’s burned the wick a little too close to the wax, a man who, at this stage of life, has more wily wisdom to impart than jobs left to exact. He too is given no less than one vividly detailed back-story which offers interesting insight and colorful shading to show how he’s become the way he has over the years. With lesser actors, the illogical absurdities of the plot may be less forgivable. As it is, the splendidly intricate specifics of each flashback story the lead actors recite, and the credence with which they convey them, make the words feel too detailed to not believe. And because we believe them, we tend also to suspend disbelief when it comes to the sillier plot contrivances as a result. So, just as the lenient affection is granted to the pissed off pooch itself, we too give the risible aspects of the story a bit of a pass as well. And we do so because of the caliber of acting.

Simply put, by making up for emotively what it lacks intellectually, BULLET HEAD is worth its aim!

Source: AITH

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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie. In addition to video scripts, Jake has written news articles, movie reviews, book reviews, script reviews, set visits, Top 10 Lists (The Horror Ten Spot), Feature Articles The Test of Time and The Black Sheep, and more.