‘Bullet’ Is on Target
Sylvester Stallone retains of the title of having one of the most mixed careers in Hollywood. Outside of playing Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, every other movie he’s made has either been a pleasurable experience or a gigantic disappointment. Lately, however, he has done a commendable job in bringing back the ’80s throwback aesthetic to the action genre, and his latest starring vehicle, “Bullet to the Head,” has that exact intention. Stallone may be 66, but I’ll admit he still does a good job at kicking ass and taking names.
Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) is a hitman in New Orleans whose partner is killed at the hands of a menacing mercenary (Jason Momoa). However, his partner’s death is connected to the last target they killed together, and this brings the likes of Detective Taylor Kwong (Sung Kang) into the mix. Bobo and Kwong soon form an unlikely alliance together to exact revenge on the higher crime powers that betrayed their partners on the job, and they set off an adventure through the mean streets of New Orleans to exact revenge.
With a plot of that structure, you know you’re not going into this film to expect a compelling story and characters. Instead, take this equation in mind: generic ’80s action movie plot + Sylvester Stallone + cult action movie director Walter Hill = passable escapism entertainment with which to kill 90 minutes.
Sylvester Stallone may be turning 70 in a few years, but the man has still got it in terms of being an action star. His deadpan one-liners are amusingly cheesy, he still does his own stunts and is more ripped than most people in their 60s. Stallone’s acting isn’t great by any means in this film, but I’ve been a fan of his for long enough to know that he has a keen self-awareness for the material he works with, and that will dictate how he’ll approach his acting style for the role he’s given.
Sung Kang makes a solid counterpart as the young detective paired with Stallone’s hitman character, and it’s also cool to see him in a role outside the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. His character doesn’t give him much to do other than banter with Stallone and firing his gun at the criminals the duo encounter, but it’s done in a way that’s serviceable enough for the film’s subject material.
Helming his first feature-length action film in 10 years, director Walter Hill makes a pleasant return to the field that made him famous with the films “The Warriors” and “48 Hrs.” He respectfully handles the film’s material in the self-aware way for which it strives, and he constructs the action sequences in a fast-paced, stylistic manner that’s actually comprehensible when handheld cameras are used during the fight scenes.
However, when the film encounters scenes that don’t showcase the action and humor, it quickly falls into the trap of providing its filler scenes to connect various things together. It’s a template that shows its face in just about every generic action movie there is today, but Hill makes sure that theses scenes don’t drag for too long and soon plunges the viewer into the next action scene.
Overall, “Bullet to the Head” did its job of entertaining me for 90 minutes and nothing more. Once every month or so, I look for a film from which I just want to enjoy escapist entertainment, and “Bullet to the Head” will be my checkmark for February. It’s one of those movies that will be forgotten in my mind in about a month, but I’ll reflect on the fact that I had fun with it for the time being.
Recommended: You’re a fan of Sylvester Stallone or throwback, ’80s-style action films that are meant simply for entertainment value.