Bullet to the Head is an outdated movie starring an outdated action hero directed by an outdated filmmaker – yet, the combination oddly works on a strange, nostalgic level. All you’re left with by the end of this movie are a handful of moments of guilty pleasures that made 80’s thrillers trashy and fun.
Sylvester Stallone, pumping half the annual steroid stock of Los Angeles stars as a hitman who partners up with a detective (Sung Kang) to solve a double murder mystery. Director Walter Hill, a veteran of unlikely character pairing (he made 48 Hours and Red Heat) plonks Stallone and Kang in a variety of scenes where deadpan one liners are hurled like lead bullets. The 80’s come crushing down quickly as there are literally no plot twists or surprises in this whodunit – the only guessing game you’ll be left to play with is to figure out whose face of the two heroes would make the first expression. Director Hill doesn’t try to innovate much with his villains either – they’re straight out of an 80’s crummy actioner, one of whom is Christian Slater who now seems like a zombie version of his own self from the 80’s.
When there’s no nostalgia, there are plenty of clichés, like the plot point of Stallone’s daughter being in the movie purely to serve as a hostage to be rescued in the end. Thankfully there is plenty of violence to keep things from getting stale, although the action scenes are mostly video game cutscenes. Naturally, the big fight in the finale between Stallone and the master baddie (Jason Mamoa) isn’t a gunfight but hand-to-hand combat featuring fire axes, complete with the most badass one liner of the movie to boot. It may be a case of genius editing, but Stallone seems like he does most of his own stunts, and at 66 still looks impressive punching someone in the face. Though it doesn’t help that his excessive botox and plastic surgeries have pretty much made him look like the Android from the Alien movies. Unlike last week’s The Last Stand, a failed attempt at bringing an ageing action star back into limelight, Bullet to the Head succeeds in putting its star in his comfort zone and kick copious amounts of ass, rather than forcing him to indulge in sad self-parody.
(First published in MiD Day)