|Bullet to the Head
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Sung Kang
Sylvester Stallone’s career has always been somewhat of a punchline. Sure, he gave us Rocky, but he also gave us Over the Top, Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, Eye See You, Daylight…well you get the idea. Limited in his range as an actor, but always trying to demonstrate otherwise, Stallone, with a career that was only becoming more of a punchline, decided the best thing to do was to relive his past. That meant bringing back his two most iconic (well his only iconic) characters (Rocky and Rambo) from the past into the new Millennium. His gamble paid off, then paid off big time with his ode to 80’s action glory.
And Stallone, just like Schwarzenegger, decided to push that nostalgia one step further with Bullet to the Head, a movie that, with a couple of minor character changes, could’ve been the sequel that maybe a few more people might be excited to see: Cobra 2. I wouldn’t blame the guy if he had taken that route, hell If I was Stallone’s agent, I might press for him to do that, because at least the audience would be somewhat familiar with the character. With Bullet to the Head, not only are you given a character that is nowhere near developed enough, you also have a movie that can’t deliver on anything it advertises. Don’t worry Sly, I don’t blame you for this mess, your director and screenwriter let you down…and turned yet another one of your roles into a joke.
Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a hitman in New Orleans. But again, he’s the good kind of Hollywood hitman: misunderstood, never kills women or children...blah blah blah, you know the rest of this character cliché. Jimmy and his partner are sent to a hotel to kill a man and after successfully completing the mission go to a bar to have drinks. Because really, what else are you going to do, go home and watch The Voice? But Jimmy’s partner is killed by Keegan (Jason Momoa). Jimmy escapes death and set ups the only reason for inserting what ultimately become useless subplots for the movie, a battle between Jimmy and Keegan.
Now those useless subplots include a D.C cop Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) who comes to New Orleans to investigate the murder of the man Jimmy and his partner killed earlier. He was a former disgraced D.C cop who had information on a local crime boss Morel (Adewale Akinnuoy-Agbaje). And with Jimmy going after Keegan, he and Kwon decide to partner up to seek revenge/answers to their respective problems. Jimmy also has a daughter, a tattoo artist, who takes a liking to Kwon.
The build up to the big climatic battle is littered with awkward exchanges between Jimmy and Kwon (with Kwon vowing to invoke the law and take down Jimmy), Jimmy and his daughter and pretty much anything involving Jimmy. Stallone's limited range as an actor doesn't allow him to be funny, which the character tries to pull off multiple times. Bullet to the Head could've easily been a 90 minute chase movie between Keegan and Jimmy. That actually might have worked out for the better. But someone, namely the screenwriter, had bigger aspirations than their talent level allowed.
And what about that being climatic fight that happens between Jimmy and Keegan? Well, it's pretty anti-climatic. Sure, it's shot decently enough, but it doesn't last long. Then comes a point in the movie where redemption for the movies mistakes might have happened: Kwon wanting to take down Jimmy. But the potential there quickly gets flushed down the toilet like everyone else involved with this movie. Walter Hill, a man who's made a great movie here and there, tackles this movie likes he's just here to collect a paycheck and could care less about crafting something decent using the strength of the story. Under different circumstances, Bullet to the Head has a chance to be pretty decent, but here it's just...well, it's no better than most of Stallone's other less than average films.