BULLET TO THE HEAD: A REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

Massive thanks again go to ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION for another Blu Ray giveaway – this time for Sylvester “Sly” Stallone’s BULLET TO THE HEAD. Thanks to Salty Kernel, Andrew Brusentsev for reviewing this one, enjoy, and to win a copy of the Blu Ray have a squiz down below, after the review!

Bullet to the Head is based on Alexis Nolent’s French graphic novel  “Du Plomb Dans La Tete” which was an award winner of the usual comicey award suspects. Although I haven’t read the French version I thoroughly enjoyed the English translation and actually reread it after sitting down to write this review.

When I heard it had been optioned into a movie I was very keen to see the results. My attention was further piqued when told that it was going to be directed by the legendary Walter Hill. This is a man who directed solid action classics like 48 Hours, Driver and Last Man Standing. He also wrote the scripts for Aliens, Alien 3, The Long Riders and Red Heat. The film stars Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Sarah Shahi, John Seda and Christian Slater. It premiered at the International Rome Film Festival on November 14, 2012 where it was greeted with very mixed reviews. As an avid 80’s action junkie I definitely wanted to see it for myself.

 

Bullet to the Head Review and Giveaway at Salty Popcorn
Bullet to the Head Review and Giveaway at Salty Popcorn

 

The action begins in New Orleans where a hitman Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) and his partner Louis Blanchard (Seda) have been sent by their handlers to eliminate Greely, a corrupt policeman, in his hotel room. Bursting in they do the hitman thing to Greely. Unbeknownst to them in the bathroom taking a shower is a young prostitute. Bobo checking all rooms like a good hitman finds her but leaves her alive. The two leave, job accomplished. Nothing untoward, it’s business as usual for these two professionals. Later whilst cooling their heels waiting for payment for a job well done Blanchard is confronted at the bar by Keegan (Momoa) who in the midst of a crowded room eliminates him with professional ease. He attempts to do the same to Bobo but fails, Bobo gets away.

The scene shifts and we meet DC Detective Taylor Kwon (Kang) who arrives in New Orleans to investigate the death of Greely. Whilst checking into at the local police station Kwon sees the prostitute saved a Greelyesque fate by Bobo (of course there was a reason!). Upon questioning she confirms that the policeman was assassinated and in usual 80’s detective style Kwon heads straight for the morgue. In the same morgue (apparently only one in the city) lies Blanchard and using some kind of otherworldly ESP he concludes that the two are connected. Ok I see where most critics jumped off this film’s train. Really? This is an 80’s action film and uses it’s time and box office tested logic, so nope nothing untoward for me so far.

 

Bullet to the Head Review and Giveaway at Salty Popcorn
Bullet to the Head Review and Giveaway at Salty Popcorn

 

To be fair it’s pretty much paint by the numbers from there on in for any avid action fan. It’s quite ridiculous, over the top  but if you use 80’s action logic it all makes weird sense. Using contacts from who knows where (lets just assume cops have contacts everywhere ok?) Kwon manages to track down Bobo at a bar, telling him he knows that he and Blanchard iced Greely. Bobo wants nothing to do with him. Kwon storms out but not before some corrupt cops find him on the street and they don’t really look like they are in the mood to talk. Cue 80’s action chase into a car park. It looks like Kwon is about to meet his maker but at the last moment is saved by Bobo. We have the grudging buddy bonding scene and the two agree to find not only who killed Blanchard but also who sent the corrupt police to end Kwon’s life. Bobo suspects his handlers, Kwon agrees

There you have it, the setup. We all know what’s going to happen in the next two acts. Kwon and Bobo are going to become grudging friends and they are going to shoot to solve the case by  cracking wise and dealing justice…bullet style. Along the way we meed Bobo’s daughter Lisa (Shahi) and there is instant chemistry between Kwon and her, much to Bobo’s frustration (If you are playing an 80’s cliché drinking game you would be hammered by now).
I will leave the spoilers there.  I have to say I have seen this movie a thousand times, but who cares, its been awhile. Stallone and Kwon do the buddy thing really well and there are some genuinely funny lines between the two of them. Stallone plays the hardened hitman with a heart of gold, expertly, and Kwon the detective looking to deliver justice. As a buddy team they work well. Shahi is passable as the tough daughter. After an 8 year absence it is good to see Slater as a shifty lawyer back on the screen, he does it well, good to have you back Christian, my man.

 

Bullet to the Head Review and Giveaway at Salty Popcorn
Bullet to the Head Review and Giveaway at Salty Popcorn

 

The stand out for me though is Momoa who makes up for his god awful decision to be in the Conan remake, why remake it why! (this must be said like Kirk saying Khan in STII). He plays the almost supernaturally skilled ex-Mercenary bad guy enforcer and he does it really really well. His dialogue is delivered perfectly and his moves in action scenes are great. The culminating action scene between him and Stallone is a thing of testosterone beauty, I won’t spoil it, ok a little..they fight with axes. For those playing the drinking game you have died and come back to life and died again.

Credit for the action sequences must also go to Alverson (editing) and Ahern II (cinematography). Then again Alverson was responsible for the much under appreciated Equilibrium and Con Air. Ahern II was the DOP on Last Man Standing and the Deadwood Series.

Look, this movie is not going to be for everyone, even for fans of the graphic novel (which I encourage all to read) may give it mixed support, for you I would say there are only passing similarities. But if you like your action movies and enjoy it’s cliqued logic, morality and over the top violence then this one is for you. It is by no means the best example of this genre but it does not take itself too seriously and as a genre piece it is a solid example.

 

3 and a Half Pops

 

To win one of the two copies of the BLU RAY available, again thanks to ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION you need to Tweet us @saltypopcornau with the hashtag #BulletWin the answer to the following question:

What is the best Sly film of all time and why? (remember 140 characters only :) )

If you do not have Twitter then you can put it on our Facebook wall – the links are on the Salty home page so you can get there :) Or if you still have my email address then go for it.

Bullet to the Head does not release until the August 1st so will be sent out around this date to the winners.