Bullet to the Head (2013)

Director:  Walter Hill
Cast:  Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa 
Plot:  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.

Genre:  Action / Crime / Thriller
Awards:  -
Runtime:  91min
Rating:  NC16 for violence and some nudity.


This review is guest reviewed by Yue Jie.

Amid the dozens of action science-fiction blockbusters thrown into theaters, there should always be at least one live-action film.  In this instance, that would be Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head, based on the graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete by Alexis Nolent.

This film marks Hill’s collaboration with Sylvester Stallone after years of futile attempts.  Directly translated from French, the title means “lead in the head”, and given words such as ‘graphic’, ‘bullet’ and ‘head’, one can be well assured that the film’s context is self-explanatory.

Famed action hero Stallone stars as Jimmy Bobo, a hitman on a mission who finds himself caught in crossfire when his partner (Jon Seda) is killed after a homicide gone wrong.  Heavily tattooed and a professional, Jimmy vows to get to the bottom of the situation.

Sung Kang (Fast Five, 2011) plays Taylor Kwon, a detective flown in from across the border to investigate the murders and who befriends Jimmy.  The unusual pair’s regular bickering about Taylor’s background and their general knowledge make for short-lived humour that helps audiences take a break from all the seriousness.

Sarah Shahi plays Lisa Bobo, Jimmy’s daughter who owns a tattoo parlour and has medical knowledge that Jimmy seeks when Taylor is shot in the chest.  Unbeknownst to Jimmy, Taylor forms an unintentional love interest with Lisa that Jimmy reacts to indifferently, much to the viewer’s amusement.

English actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, 2009) plays Morel, the mastermind of a financial scam and a self-centered crime boss whose uncanny ability to constantly remain calm gives off a sense of uneasiness and mixed feelings of confidence about him.

Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, 2011) plays Keegan, the antagonist and Morel’s accomplice behind the accidental homicide who mistakes Jimmy and his partner for another pair that he’s supposed to kill.

Jimmy’s escape, Morel’s instructions and his own desire for greed therefore keep Keegan constantly on the hunt for Jimmy.  From his long stint as a hitman, Jimmy knows enough to set up explosives when he needs them and Keegan gets his share on the other end of the spectrum just when thinks he has Jimmy ambushed. 

Already in his mid-60s and nearly twice Momoa’s age, Stallone is able to keep up the momentum and manages to fend Keegan off in the brutal fight scenes, especially in the final act.

Writer-director Hill (The Warriors, 1979; The Long Riders, 1980) known for his male-dominated action flicks, gets behind the camera nearly a decade after Undisputed (2002).  Together with co-writer Alessandro Camon, Hill adapts the typical plot about politics, corruption and greed while utilizing his adept flair for raw action.

Bullet to the Head is a mark of old-school filmmaking that joins the likes of recent hit Jack Reacher (2012) and is one of few films to showcase pure testosterone.  If you enjoy seeing Sylvester Stallone shoot people in the face with style and without hesitation, Bullet To The Head is one to watch.

GRADE: 3 stars

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