Sylvester Stallone and good wine have two things in common: they’re both Italian and they both get better with age. Stallone’s latest venture, “Bullet to the Head” is proof of this latter aspect. A solar plexus punching from titles to final scene, “Bullet” barely lets up long enough to allow one to suck in air.
A curious and rather original action film, “Bullet to the Head” at times masquerades as a buddy comedy, feeding off the long-tested formula of the heavy and the straight man. But instead of the more traditional pairings, this partnership consists of hitman and honor-bound cop.
Stallone portrays James Bonomo, the aforementioned hitman sent to clip a dirty ex-cop hiding out in the Big Easy. Bonomo soon finds himself betrayed, however, and his partner murdered by the same men who hired them. Determined to avenge his partner, his course is complicated by the appearance of a D.C. detective named Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang—“Fast and Furious”). Seeking the same men but slightly different goals, the pair look for ways to get in each others’ way, while being constantly sidetracked and threatened by an ex-Legionnaire named Keegan (Jason Momoa—“Conan the Barbarian”), the same man who murdered Bonomo’s partner.
“Bullet” stomps into the realm of neo-noir, replete with Stallone’s voice-over narration, a gritty setting and Stallone’s hard-boiled anti-hero. Utilizing a fantastic score of dirty southern blues, rock and zydeco, the film also does a fine job in immersing the viewer in the sweaty, sultry world of the Louisiana bayou and its neighboring cities while also evoking an empathetic sneer from viewers who may behave, in real life, like the by-the-book Detective Kwon, but secretly wish to emulate the shoot-first-ask-questions-if-they’re-still-breathing Bonomo.
The script does suffer from a handful of weak lines—delivered in unbelievable, eye-rolling fashion and not, surprisingly, by Stallone; but the handful of slaps to the face in the story more than make up for the minor oversights in dialogue. And strangely enough, the actual bullets to the head in the movie that is, thankfully, aptly named, never get old and never even seem unnecessary. For fans of good shoot-em-up type action flicks, that news translates into one simple word: Yay!
A good enough film to warrant a sequel, its reassuring to know that Stallone is prone to just that sort of filmic re-visitation and hopefully it won’t take more than a couple of years before Bonomo hits the screens once more—perhaps in “Bullet to the Pancreas.”
Ammo Dump rating: 7 out of 10 bullets
(Rated R; 91 min.)
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