Move review: Bullet to the Head
You don't need to be an astrologer to know what type of year 2013 will be; it's clearly the year of the ageing action hero. This year sees the return of the original triumvirate of eighties action stars with Schwarzenegger, Willis and Stallone fending off retirement with new releases.
And as far as Stallone is concerned, he's also bringing out an old gun by way of Walter Hill to direct his latest offering.
In the Deep South, Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) and his partner in crime Louis (Jon Seda), are out on a job; they're hit men looking to take out their mark. All goes to plan well enough, but later that same night, whilst holding out in a bar waiting to get paid, someone comes after the pair of them. Bobo survives but Louis, well, he's not so lucky.
Bobo maybe a helluva lot of brawn, but he has brains enough to work out he's been set up.
At the same time Detective Taylor Kwon, a young Korean cop from New York, is shocked when his partner is murdered. Taylor is keen to track down who the murderer is, and his investigation soon leads him to Bobo.
Although initially weary of one another, the pair soon realise that the two deaths are more than likely linked, and so an unusual alliance is born. It's just as well they team up as the baddie they come across, in the bulky shape of hitman for hire Keegan (Jason Momoa), may just need both of them to bring him down.
Unlike his fellow eighties action heroes, Stallone's career has seen a bit of comeback in recent years. Not only was Rocky and Rambo's return greeted positively, his Expendables franchise took off in a big way too. And he doesn't put a foot wrong here either.
Bullet to the Head is the almost perfect homage to the eighties action genre. This is about as far from the re-invented Stallone seen in James Mangold's impressive 1997 thriller Cop Land as you can get. Instead, we get the archetypal Stallone; an impressive-looking figure fighting his way through a number of bad guys with very little effort. This time, he also manages to pull off some nice one-liners along the way. Both of which are pretty impressive for a 66 year old.
Director Hill also appears to be back on form. The last time the 71 year old directed was a forgettable Wesley Snipes vehicle Undisputed, ten years ago. Here though, he appears at home in a genre he knows all too well; after all, he directed the buddy movie 48 Hrs. and its sequel, both of which starred the winning combination of Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy.
Everything about the film is extra large: you don't just get one hero, you get two; and you don't just get one baddie, you get three, including a nice turn by Christian Slater. And then you have the guns that are a little bit louder; the punches that are a little bit harder and the explosions that little bit bigger. It's no surprise to learn then, that its source material was a graphic novel.
It's only Achilles' heel would take the shape of Sung Kang, whose overall performance is just too tepid. In Stallone's last buddy film, 1989's Tango & Cash, he had Kurt Russell to play off of. Kang simply doesn't have any kind of on screen presence to compete with the likes of Stallone, or complement for that matter.
This film is not a game changer. It's not a post-modern take on the buddy cop genre. What it is, is a surprisingly fun action flick, that respects the rules of the genre to the letter. It's a little old fashioned, but in a good way; it's a glorious reminder of what made this type of actioner so successful back in the day, and you couldn't really ask more of it than that.
And unlike recent oldies release Quartet, it proves that certain members of the older generation are still very much alive and kicking.
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