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BULLET TO THE HEAD

"Revenge Never Gets Old"

(1 Feb 2013) Director: Walter Hill

 

Starting with “I got your old guy right here”, Sylvester Stallone wisecracked, shot, stabbed, punched, and drank his way through Bullet to the Head.  [Bulleit Bourbon must have paid handsomely to be so prominently featured. If they paid handsomely to help make a Stallone movie, I'm all for promoting them here as a thank you!]  The movie was a little Transporter-ish and like Parker, and like Statham's characters Stallone’s character James Bonomo aka “Jimmy Bobo” has rules.

We get to see those rules in action from the get go. The movie also features a gnarly kill near the beginning as Stallone gives someone the Final Destination treatment.

 They keep up the “Bang. Down. Owned” pace, and the movie's overall killcount is high.

Jason Mamoa Bullet to the HeadAt first, Jason Momoa’s henchman character “Keegan” seems subdued. He’s quiet and his movements economical like Schwarzenegger as The Terminator. When he strolls through a place, he trails lethality like a shark cruising for the kill, but when he and Stallone have their first fight scene in the men’s room, we get a taste of what’s to come.  Love the Action Movie staple: the Close-Quarters Fight!

The dynamic between Bobo and Sung Kang’s character “Taylor Kwon” is Buddy-Movie-style fun, but it was played up in the trailer and some of what they showed you was not in the movie. Shame, since it was just 1:32, I would have liked more.

It was a 'by-the-book' versus 'the-real-world' clash of methods. You know Stallone’s right and you think it’s just a matter of time and circumstances until Jon Seda from HomicideKwon realizes that. The theme that “huge amounts of money can lead a man to temptation” played well against Jimmy Bobo being on the wrong side of the law, but still in the right. When Bobo says “We’ll get him and take him out.” Kwon contradicts “You mean take him in.” Bobo replies “Out, in, whatever.” It brought to mind the Dirty Harry series (particularly Magnum Force) and the expeditious meting out of “justice”.

When Kwon tries to be the policeman and takes the firing pin out of Bobo’s gun (nearly costing him his life), the two clash.  I loved the line “You had me at ‘Fuck You.’” Stallone is running an investigation into the death of his partner, Jon Seda’s character “Louis Blanchard”, his way. He accepts Kwon’s help and we get to watch the old way and the new way find common ground.

I really like Jon Seda. Loved his character "Det. Paul Falsone" on Homicide and  Law & Order. He’s been in every good cop-themed TV Show there is (NYPD Blue, New York Undercover, Under Fire, Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Third Watch, Homicide: The Movie, UC: Undercover, Las Vegas, CSI: Miami, The Closer, and Hawaii Five-O), as well as some great movies (Carlito’s Way, Twelve Monkeys, Primal Fear, Undisputed, and Bad Boys II). I just wish he could have been around longer in this movie. I think they cast him for the sake of his background, hoping that we would like Louis because of who Jon is.  It would have made a better movie if we knew Louis better so we could want vengeance for this death.

When we get to see Bobo’s methods in action, we see why he’s still alive. I loved the payoffs for the note about C-4 in his file. True to the best Action movies, they blow shit up. Stallone knows what we want to see. This movie really was a throwback to the Awesome 1980s Age of Action. Stallone kept the one-liners coming.  “Touch her and I’ll kill you with a fucking rock.” Snap! Crackle! Pop! 

A false note I didn’t like was the gratuitous nudity. I thought it was especially inappropriate to show Stallone’s character’s daughter naked.   The way it seemed, they needed to show you what she looked like naked as some sort of visual shorthand to say she was worth saving or worth falling in love with.

Momoa’s character could also have been a little more in depth. If they had set up who he was and how he worked a little more, we might have been a little more happy/satisfied to see him get his comeuppance.  Still, we know enough to sense the danger when he’s told “When I want your opinion, I’ll buy you a brain” by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s villain character “Morel”. You’re thinking BIG mistake! Keegan can’t let that stand. As big a cautious wheeler dealer as Morel was, you’d think he’d be a little smarter than to bait a shark.

Sylvester Stallone pretend punches Jason Mamoa for a promotional shot for Bullet to the HeadI really enjoyed Bullet to the Head overall. I love Stallone, and was willing to suspend disbelief to see him in action again. He takes some hard-looking hits and the final fight between him and Momoa, although not plausible, was nonetheless enjoyable.

The whole final showdown scene was much more complicated than I thought it would be.  Of course it takes place in a typical Action Movie setting ["Factory/Warehouse/Castle"—check out allouttabubblegum.com's hilarious and dead-on Action Movie Checklist (scoll down)].  Again, a high killcount. And, at last, Kwon steps up when it counts.

I thought Stallone might look ridiculously small next to Momoa in the axe-fight scene. Momoa is listed as 6’ 4” on IMDB and 6’ 5” on Wikipedia. He’s 33. Stallone is 66, and 5’ 9˝”. But the way it was shot and even the scenes when they were together, Bobo’s character was tough enough that you thought he might take Keegan out, fueled on vengeance.

Stallone has a metal plate in his neck and as I watched him lunge and get bounced around, I thought, is it worth it?  One wrong move and he could snap his neck and die or be paralyzed from the force of bone against the metal inside him. 

The biggest false note for me in the movie was the ending. I thought Kwon would come around, but he doesn’t. You just can’t teach some people. You would have thought he would have had the lightbulb moment when Stallone saved him from getting a bullet to the head from the Police Chief. 

This movie makes me wonder what it will take to make Stallone retire. He's got so many other talents. We really don't want to see him strain to move his neck.  Revenge Never Gets Old . . . But Action Heroes Do.  I just hope he doesn't keep going like Burt Reynolds did with Burn Notice. Nobody that old and frail looking (he was 74) should be throwing punches.  Doesn't mean we don't love him. I really wish he'd pick somebody young (like Taylor Lautner or ) as an auteur and make movies!!

______________________________________________

Now that Jason Momoa's been Conan, and starred with Stallone, will he step into the Action Figure shoes?  IMDB lists him in Wolves (Horror) and Road to Paloma (Drama/Thriller) both in post production and due out this year.

 

 



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