If you had asked me a month ago whether or not I thought Bullet to the Head could be anything but awful, my first answer would be WTF is Bullet to the Head? Nonexistent marketing push aside, my next response would have been a fervent Hell No. Then, I saw a little movie called The Last Stand which proved that a cheesy, geezer starring 80′s action nostalgiathon could at least be a huge amount of dumb fun. Damn you Arnold, why did you have to get my hopes up?! I walked in expecting to see Rambo square off against Khal Drogo, but the moment Christian Slater’s name shows up on the opening credits you know things aren’t going anywhere good. Shamelessly derivative, lazily written, and lacking enough action or fun to make up for its lack of brains, Bullet to the Head is nothing but a waste of time, time that could be much more productively spent re-watching Rambo for the hundredth time.
After watching their respective partners die, a New Orleans hitman and a Washington D.C. detective form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy.
As a quick comment on the plot, how many times does hollywood feel that it’s necessary to repeat the bad-guy archetype of “Rich Guy trying to make a bunch of money by shutting down a lower-income neighborhood to make way for a fancy new development”? We’ve already had one crappy movie use this as its premise this year (The awful Broken City), how many more hammerheaded attempts to inject the Rich vs. Poor theme into a film do we have to take?
As busy as he’s been keeping over the past few years, I think it’d be difficult for anyone to argue that Sylvester Stallone has aged well. At this point in time, his face looks like what would happen if you put a wig on a Jack-o-Lantern that had been left out in the sun for a few weeks. His (fakely) tattooed body looks more like it’s made up of a leathery hide than human skin. Even his trademark bulging muscles are beginning to make him look like someone who’d be more at home making creepy infomercials for TotalGym. That being said, as terrible of an actor as Stallone is he is still the best part of this movie. Sure, the choice to have him do all of the voice-overs in his incomprehensible growl (am I the only person who thinks a buddy comedy between him and Nick Nolte would be insanely awesome?), but he still holds at least some of the charisma that’s kept people flocking back to the Expendables movies.
On the other hand, we have Sung Kang as the honest cop Taylor Kwan. You may remember Kang from the last few Fast & Furious movies, but if it’s possible try to keep it that way. His part isn’t helped by the terrible dialogue, but his stiff-as-a-board delivery certainly doesn’t do the terrible lines any favors. The romantic subplot that develops between him and Bo’s Daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi) is incredibly cliche, as is every time he opens his mouth about his thoughts on the virtues of the law. I sincerely hope that english is a second language to Kang, otherwise there’s no excuse for how poor his acting is here.
Jason Momoa looks the part of a bad guy, but little else. He gets a few badass scenes early on, but those badass scenes are wasted when the movie starts putting more focus on Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje AKA Mr. Eko!) as the real head-honcho on the evil front. Morel is arguably the most stereotypical character of them all. An evil genius with a disability, an accent and a band of tough bodyguards/hitmen at his beck and call? How original!
Without a doubt this is the biggest factor which separates Bullet to the Head from similar yet much better fare like The Last Stand. The best scenes that show this are any time a character is trying to explain a story or situation to another character. It seriously feels like writer Alessandro Camon simply watched a bunch of episodes of Law and Order and tried to copy how the cops talked to eachother in that. The only problem is that people loved that show because of people like Jerry Orbach and Jesse Martin, and all he’s got here is an aging Gorilla-Man and and some Korean kid who coudn’t act his way out of a paper bag.
In another strange parallel to TV crime shows, the movie often does this CSI-esque flashback sequence whenever it’s trying to explain something that just happened. Only thing is, it’s never anything that needed explaining, so it feels incredibly pointless.
It should also be noted that Bullet to the Head is probably only matched by Gran Torino in terms of the sheer number and variety of racial slurs towards Asians. The main difference was that Gran Torino’s were racist in a Grump Old Man sort of way whereas Bullet to the Head rolls our insults after insults in an actual attempt to be funny. Between the “Asians aren’t good drivers” joke, the Short Stop reference and just about anything else Bo says to Taylor, it felt like the writers brought on Carlos Mencia to consult for the project (He probably could’ve have used the rent money in any case)
The Verdict: 3.5/10 Only if Nothing Else is On
+ Christian Slater gets shot in the face (Hooray!!!!)
- Incredibly predictable plot
- Horribe dialogue w/ even worse acting in
- Characters are shallow even by action standards
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Mercifully Short Reviews: 6/10
Paragraph Film Reviews: 5/10
Cinematic Katzenjammer: 4.0/10
The Code is Zeek: 2/5
Amonymous’ Blog: 2/5
Bananas About Movies: 1.5/5
Tim’s Film Reviews: 15%
Average: 4.2/10 – Sub-Par