While watching Bullet to the Head I was very aware that this was a product designed to fulfill a certain need in the movie marketplace. This is not a movie to be reviewed for aesthetic merit, narrative aplomb, or performances that raised ‘the bar’. Nope, this is a good old fashioned B-movie that would probably look the best with some video noise as it played off a used VHS tape.
The nominal story goes something like this: a hitman (Sylvester Stallone) and a cop (Sung Kang) team up to find the people who killed their respective partners. Jason Momoa plays the badass killer, Christian Slater and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje play wealthy string-pullers and gorgeous Sarah Shahi plays Stallone’s daughter, mandatory-hot-girl-in-movies-of-this-kind, and the only leverage anyone will have against James Bonomo (Stallone’s character).
So really, she’s the superhuman in this movie.
Amateur comedy aside, this movie does have a couple of tough guys being really tough. I’m talking Momoa and Stallone. Rocky Balboa may be slower of gait and fleshier of face but this dude is still badass. I don’t know how he retains that physique but it ain’t too shabby for a 66-year-old. And Momoa is so darned creepy as the killer who relishes putting the hurt on people he really sells the possibility that Stallone’s character isn’t going to walk out of this movie alive.
This movie may have been based on a graphic novel (Du plomb dans la tête by Alexis Nolent), it may have been directed by Walter Hill (who helmed the 1979 cult film The Warriors) but its roots are firmly B-movie. Some of the scenes just don’t cut together, the music is loud and several of the recognizable names in this movie don’t spend too much time on screen (it’s as if they missed the boat when Robert Rodriguez attempted to reinvigorating the grindhouse genre so they agreed to be in this movie instead). From the trailer embedded below it also appears that a lot of that material didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie.
Final Analysis: An action (or nostalgia) fan is in for a decent ride. If you never outgrew those movies we watched off rented (or borrowed) VHS tapes, you will enjoy this one.
My Advice: It is a crowded movie release week. This is not a must-watch on the big screen. But rent it on DVD or cable for sure. Stallone. Momoa. Going at each other with axes. How can you not want to see that?