Bullet to the Head

If there’s one thing Bullet to the Head can guarantee, it’s an unfathomable reassurance that Sylvester Stallone’s “still got it” (by which I mean, he can still fire a machine gun with unabashed menace). He may be walking slower, croaking louder and battling more OAP jokes than you can shake a stick at, but there’s no mistaking the fact that Stallone still has what it takes to swing an axe, run over a cat and punch someone in the face. What Bullet in the Head fails to do, sadly, is establish much interest in character, plot or anything else happening on screen.

Based on the French comic Du Plomb Dans La Tete, the film tells the story of hitman Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) who must learn to cooperate with detective Taylor Kwon (Kang) when both of their respective partners are killed by a group of badass mofos. While we watch the pair exchange a series of awful insults (“You gotta stop busting my chops”, “When I want your opinion I’ll buy you a brain”) madness soon ensues as the unlikely duo hunt for the killers and assassin Jason Momoa (it’s Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones!) mercilessly shoots everyone in sight, literally leaving no-one alive. Panic strikes when Bobo’s daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi) unwittingly becomes involved in her father’s strenuous attempt at cold-blooded revenge. Cue Daddy Stallone to the rescue. That’s pretty much it for the plot, just add in a lot of blood, sweat and bullets.

Bullet to the Head does what it says on the movie poster. It is a soaring mess of ammunition, bare knuckle fights and mindless shooting sprees. But unlike the tagline, revenge does get old, particularly in a film that feels somewhat pointless and mediocre – at best. Stallone is definitely not the worst part of the film; Sung Kang is. Lacking charisma, appeal or acting ability, Kang does a lacklustre job as the DC cop, ensuring that at all times we are on Stallone’s side even if he is does slur out some astonishingly shoddy one-liners.

Christian Slater also joins the cast, if only briefly, but does a good job as the rich, sleazy lawyer. Momoa deserves credit for his performance as the ruthless assassin, obliterating everyone and equalling Stallone in both size and muscle in an old-fashioned axe battle. This is about the only scene where the thrill is not misplaced and the cheesy one-liners are forgiven. The rest of the time Bullet to the Head melts into itself. Stallone’s pecs constantly threaten to burst out of his teeny tiny vest, the baddies aren’t nearly as fun as they should be (aside from Momoa) and the chemistry between Stallone and Kang is almost non-existant. And the ending left me thirsty. Do you know what that means? It means that I was left thinking more about refilling my empty water bottle than about anything else that was happening on screen.

The main problems with Bullet to the Head are an unsatisfying plot and unconvincing acting from its central characters. But hey, who cares – no-one ever saw a Stallone film expecting to put their thinking cap on. The film’s highlights include Stallone, Stallone’s voice (like Tom Waits on acid… in a furnace) and Stallone’s lines. When Kwon is shot and seriously injured, what does Stallone’s character offer him? Why, extract of white tiger juice – obviously. And what’s his reaction when he finds out that his daughter has been kidnapped? “TOUCH HER AND I’LL KILL YOU WITH A FUCKING ROCK!” Of course you would, Stallone, and we’d love to watch, as always.

Bullet to the Head tries to provide taut thrills and bloody, quick-fire murder counts, but it lacks heart, substance, and there’s only so many times we can watch Stallone get shot and get back up again. From the beginning of the film (when he runs over a cat) to the end of the film (when he downs a glass of straight whiskey), we are clearly being told that no-one messes with Bobo. Which would be fine, if he had a cooler name, but an hour and a half of unintelligent nonsense and fun can and does get tedious. Bullet in MY head, more like.

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