I find as I get older that getting more of the same from an actor or director bores me more than it used to. And the good news about BULLET TO THE HEAD, the latest film from director Walter Hill (HARD TIMES, THE WARRIORS, STREETS OF FIRE, 48 HOURS, RED HEAT), is that it's something of a change of pace for star Sylvester Stallone. This is not an explosion romp in the vein of Stallone's EXPENDABLES movies, and he's playing a character that is, in very few ways, traditionally likable.
Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a New Orleans hit man who won't kill women or children, but outside of those parameters, he'll kill anyone. When his partner (John Seda) is killed after they complete a job, Jimmy suspects that he might be considered a loose end by the crime boss who hired him (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Meanwhile, D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (FAST FIVE's Sung Kang) has also lost a partner and is in New Orleans looking for the same man as Jimmy. They form a shaky alliance in their search for the crime boss and his brutal button man (CONAN THE BARBARIAN's Jason Momoa, who does a great turn as a villain), and they spend the rest of the film fighting with each other, trading unfunny dialogue and shooting people.
Based on the graphic novel written by Matz, BULLET TO THE HEAD frankly feels like a subpar, direct-to-video release released in the mid-1990s. Everyone involved (except maybe Kwon) has done far better work and there's very little that we haven't seen in hundreds of other action films in the last 30 years. I like what Stallone is pulling off here as far as his performance, but when you place him next to the likes of Christian Slater, there's only so much the guy can do to improve this film. The Walter Hill fan in me was the most disappointed, since there's nothing really special about the way this film is directed aside from the somewhat brutal nature of some of the violence.
Honestly, I have very little to say about BULLET TO THE HEAD because even after seeing it twice (the first time at Butt Numb-a-Thon, the second earlier this week just as a refresher), it just didn't open itself up to interpretation or contemplation. No, not every movie does, but this one barely offers even characters, much of a plot, or one-liners that will be remembered. There is an all-too-brief axe fight; I will give it that. But this is also the kind of film that thinks that one guy who uses his smart phone to do police work is high falutin'. It's tiring.
But it's clear that Stallone isn't sleepwalking through this one; he's trying to make something of BULLET TO THE HEAD, even if nobody else can be bothered, including the esteemed director. Hell, for all I know, this is the first Stallone film of late that will bring fans of Stallone's earlier action work back the theaters. But it didn't work for Schwarzenegger a couple of weeks ago, and I thought THE LAST STAND was the better movie of the two. If you're typically pre-disposed to enjoy just about any Stallone movie put out or if you're a die-hard fan of Hill, you may be able to tolerate this one, but I was bored by it.