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A sloppy and outdated return for Stallone and Hill
n the 1970s and 80s, Sylvester Stallone and director Walter Hill dominated the cinematic scene with various action films and buddy comedies. Their latest film, Bullet to the Head, attempts to recapture the spirit of the 80s but ends up feeling outdated, never attempting to reinvent or modernise this type of film.
In the New Orleans underworld, James Bonomo (Stallone), a.k.a. Jimmy Bobo, is a hit-man who lives by a certain code of ethics: he does not kill women or children. After Jimmy's partner, Louis (Jon Seda), is killed by a ruthless mercenary (Jason Momoa), Jimmy wants revenge. He finds an unusual ally in the form of Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), and their investigation leads to a wider conspiracy involving an African gangster (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje) and network of corrupt politicians and police officers.
Hill is best known for director 48 Hours and the cult classic The Warriors and producing the "Alien" films. With Bullet to the Head, he brings in a neo-noir style filled with dark, neon visuals and uses a brooding Stallone voice-over. But on the whole Bullet to the Head is a dull, predictable experience. For a film that is led by one of the biggest action stars in the world, the action is infrequent, and when it is on screen, its quick cuts and close-up shots make it hard to tell what's going on.
The screenplay is ordinary featuring plot points that you will see coming from a mile away. Bullet to the Head is such a predictable film that, despite the graphic violence you'll see, it'll likely leave your audience bored.
It was clear that Hill and Stallone wanted to make a film similar to Cobra, but what we get is a film that treats itself too seriously. It's a film that needed to be let loose, but it played more as an investigation film with some buddy comedy elements as Bobo and Taylor quest around the city. The film is the most fun when Momoa is in full killer mode.
The buddy relationship between Bobo and Taylor plays on three levels profession, age and race. Both men argue about their methods Bobo's willingness to kill and use violence differs greatly from Taylor's law-abiding view on the justice. The other element is Bobo's use of old-fashioned methods (relying on his knife) compared to Taylor's reliance on his cell phone. The writing attempts to give the pair a witty rapport, and it does provide the laughs as the film constantly sides with Bobo.
Despite Stallone's resurgence as an actor, Bullet to the Head is a step back for him. He offers a lazy performance that's meant as a throwback to his films of the 80s, films that took themselves too seriously. The acting across the board, actually, is subpar, but Akinnouye-Agbaje's performance was particularly embarrassing as a gangster limping around on crutches. It was really a role meant for an older actor.
On the whole, Bullet of the Head attempts to be a stylish throwback, a film that wanted to bring the grimy thrillers of the 1980s to the internet age. But what we have is a sloppy film that will disappoint people who want a fun B-movie. Stallone and Hill have made better films in the past, and if you think you're interested in Bullet to the Head, you might want to check one of those older films instead. Stallone certainly needs to step away from this type of movie if he wants to expand his career from his existing franchises.
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