Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater
Running time: 92 minutes
Is it a coincidence that three of action movies’ biggest and oldest stars are back on our cinema screens this month in three separate movies? Schwarzenegger has The Last Stand, an immensely fun ride which really felt like a return to his glory days and featured some brand new peachy one-liners from those famous Austrian chords that we (or I) have really missed in recent years. Willis has A Good Day To Die Hard (or Die Hard 5), which I haven’t yet seen, but am cautiously looking forward to as I’ve enjoyed all four of them so far. And finally Stallone has the film in question, Bullet To The Head, whose highest praise is simply that it’s a bit better than The Expendables.
I could go into the problems with the plot, like the core relationship between Bonomo (Stallone) and Kwon (Sung Kang) that would never, ever exist unless I’m missing something and cops are just allowed to go rogue and work with convicted contract killers without informing their superiors, or the typically cliché subplots like an estranged relationship between Bonomo and his daughter, whom his new cop buddy begins to fall for, thus creating further tension between them. I could go into the fact that every character is so ridiculously uninteresting that I didn’t care – genuinely didn’t care – what happened to any of them. Even Bonomo, who was at least brought to life a little through Stallone’s charisma. And I could go into all of the annoying, niggling little things like Stallone’s running voice-over that tries so hard to sound cool but fails quite miserably, or the joke about Stallone’s age which is amusing once or twice, but diminishes rapidly when it’s pasted onto almost every scene like extra thick molasses.
I could go into all of these things, but I won’t. I know this film isn’t actually trying to be much more than a bit of trashy, indulgent fun. When you’re going into a film called Bullet To The Head, are you really expecting a strong narrative filled with poetic dialogue and subtle nuances? Of course not, you’re expecting to see lots of bullets flying into lots of heads. And hey, that’s exactly what we get. Of course, this doesn’t mean it should get away with those aforementioned basic cinematic problems, it just means I don’t care about it enough to warrant rambling on.
I genuinely did want to enjoy this, and I tried hard. Stallone is still an enjoyable screen presence, and I did think the action was suitably full throttle and the odd set piece quite fun. It’s just that the rest of it is a stodgy, dumb, cliché-ridden snoozer. If you have to choose, see The Last Stand instead.