As you may or may not already know, January is the dumping ground for mediocre movies. We have summer blockbusters, then we have holiday movies in the Nov/Dec timeframe. When January hits, if you have already seen all of the Oscar nominated movies, then all you have left are the January movies. Well, Bullet to the Head is technically being released the first day of February so it is on the cusp of the dumping grounds. With it being so close to January, which side of the fence will it fall (failure/success)? Keep reading to find out.
James Bonomo (aka Jimmy Bobo) is a hired gun living in New Orleans who finds his partner dead after pulling off a big job. Angry and seeking revenge Bobo crosses paths with Taylor Kwon, an out-of-state cop. Kwon is in the area investigating crooked cops and almost suffers the same fate as Bobo’s partner. Bobo and Kwon find themselves looking for the same group of criminals and develop an awkard working relationship. Although they are looking for the same people, their approaches are very different. Kwon attempts to use his police training and psychological negotiation tactics, but is perceived as somewhat weak. On the other hand, Bobo uses a more rudimentary approach; the brute force methodology.
Sylvester Stallone (Rambo, Rocky, The Expendables) as Jimmy Bobo, is a perfect fit. Given that Bullet to the Head is based upon a graphic novel, this is an ideal role. Stallone is convincing in this barbaric role and timing is such that he is actually quite funny at times. Sung Kang (Fast Five, Live Free or Die Hard) as Taylor Kwan, is a nice fit. He does a good job playing the part of an out-of-place cop in a highly corrupt environment. The pairing of Stallone and Kwan gives the movie a 48 Hours type of feel, allowing for jabs about chosen professions and racial orientation. Christian Slater (Gleaming the Cube, True Romance) as Marcus Baptiste, is somewhat believable. He doesn’t have a huge part in the film, but handles his screen time well.
Jason Momoa (Baywatch, Conan the Barbarian) as Keegan, plays a mercenary-for-hire. Momoa spoke quite intelligently and played the part with some emotion and depth of character. It was somewhat refreshing for this type of character in this type of movie. Sarah Shahi (Old School, Fairly Legal) sizzles on the screen as Lisa Bonoma; Bobo’s daughter. She seems believable in her role as a rebel with daddy/daughter issues. Most of the supporting cast of police officers did a nice job, for the most part. There were some performances here and there that were lacking. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (The Bourne Identity, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra) plays the puppet master in the organized crime syndicate. He delivers a powerful performance for a role that is key, but not a large role.
Walter Hill (Red Heat, Another 48 Hours) directs this somewhat low-budget movie and does a fair job of it. Hill has some bigger budget flicks on his resume, but for the most part the movies are what you would call “B-Movies”. Regardless of past endeavors, Hill does a nice job with this film. There was never a moment where the shots or editing really distracted from the film, except for during the intro. Other than that, the filming, shots, timing and everything else seemed to mesh very well. While this movie was somewhat low-budget, it didn’t necessarily have a low-budget feel. Hill did a nice job of making the most of his resources.
Alessandro Camon (American Psycho, The Messenger) adapted this movie from the graphic novel Du plomb dans la tête by Alexis Nolent. Camon has an eclectic resume of screenplays and actually does a nice job with this screenplay. The movie had a lot of action, suspense, some drama and funny parts sprinkled throughout. A lot of the enjoyment came from the pairing of Stallone and Kang, but the screenplay laid the foundation. Stallone has some well-timed pauses in conversation and then his typical tough guy responses; which were hilarious at times. Considering the challenges of adapting a graphic novel for the screen, Camon did a fair job.
This movie will not be nominated for any Oscars, but if you are looking for a good action movie to take the edge off, then look no further. The movie is not deep, but it is deep enough considering the subject matter. It has a brisk running time of 91 minutes. The movie gets off to a slow start, but quickly picks up steam. If you are a fan of Stallone movies, especially his action movies of late, then you will enjoy this film. If you just want to unwind from work and watch Stallone kill some people, then this move is perfect for you. If you have any interest in this movie at all you will not be disappointed. Taken for face value, Bullet to the Head is better than expected.