SYLVESTER STALLONE HAS BULLETS TO SHOOT AND ASSES TO KICK
Illustration by Nichole Daniels
During the past few years, many once-relevant ‘80s and ‘90s action stars have taken it upon themselves to engage in career resurrections. Some of these attempts (The Expendables 1 & 2) have been ass-uppercutting, testicle-dropping adrenaline rushes that remind us of how awesome these GOP loving, steroid-taking macho men are. Other attempts (The Last Stand) remind us of Guile’s old taunt recited after each victory in Street Fighter, which is: “GO HOME AND BE A FAMILY MAN.”
In his latest action flick, Sylvester Stallone endeavors to disprove the notion that he is an antiquated icon and an old fart. Is Bullet To The Head the right movie to silence the naysayers? Or should he just retire and live out the rest of his days watching Divorce Court in his sweatpants and Crocs?
Bullet To The Head follows the typical revenge story template. Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) is an assassin who is set up by his employers. Bobo teams up with Detective Taylor Kwon (Kang) so that they may both avenge the deaths of their fallen partners. Legally, I cannot give away the movie’s entire story; therefore, I will end the synopsis here.
Based upon the graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete (known by English-speaking audiences as Headshot), the movie’s tone borrows heavily from elements of crime fiction and neon-noir, genres that director Walter Hill is familiar with. The Long Beach-born director broke his ten-year hiatus making this film and has once again demonstrated his directorial skills.
The chemistry between Stallone and Kang is passable. At times the dialogue and quipping between the two seems contrived and unnatural. I assure you, none of the witticisms in this movie are in the same echelon as those of Oscar Wilde. Also, you are not going to find any Oscar-worthy performances in BTTH, but you will encounter some badass shootouts and fight scenes that are well captured and well choreographed.
Stallone kicks the most ass and shoots the most goons in this movie, but Kang has his moments too. Each action scene contains an adequate amount of blood and gore. The bloodiest and goriest scene involves Kang launching a bad guy from a flight of stairs, who then lands on his head, causing his skull to crack open and his brains to splatter all over the pavement. This scene is similar to Michael Caine’s balcony-throwing kill in Get Carter, which Stallone remade, but it sucks. Don’t watch the Stallone version.
The most surprising and yet most pleasant compliment to the action was the excellent choice of music for the soundtrack. Inspired by the New Orleans setting, the movie contains bayou blues, Cajun rock, and synthesizer scores. Ominous sounds reminiscent of those used in Walter Hill’s 1979 cult classic The Warriors are masterfully inserted before and during each action sequence.
I will admit Bullet To The Head had me worried at first. Going into theater, I thought the movie was going to suck, and the last thing I wanted was to watch a shitty movie. Honestly, I like Sylvester Stallone’s movies. He might be getting old, but he is one of my childhood heroes and I don’t want to see him throw in the towel just yet. Oh yeah, you better believe I am going to include a Rocky reference in this review.
While Bullet To The Head is certainly not Stallone’s best work, it is far from his worst. Ever watch Rhinestone? Of course you haven’t. Overall, the movie is watchable and will satisfy indiscriminate moviegoers. It is not without its flaws, but those flaws are minor transgressions that are forgiven by the action-packed awesomeness this movie offers.
If my opinion is worth anything, then I recommend it. Still unsure about the movie? It has nudity. If that doesn’t win you over, I don’t know what will.
FINAL VERDICT: Sylvester Stallone can continue making movies...for now.