Movie Review: Bullet to the Head


In Bullet to the Head, anti-gun rights guy Sylvester Stallone plays Mumbles from the old Dick Tracy series. OK, he mostly just sounds like him. Sly is a New Orleans hit man named James “Bobo” Bonomo. Taking care of Big Easy bidness with partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda), Bobo’s career goes off the rails after a contract on one Hank Greely. Why Greely? Like Lord Alfred Tennyson, Bobo’s is not to wonder why. Surprisingly (or not if you’ve ever watched a movie before) Bonomo spares the life of a prostitute soaping-up the goods in the shower while Bobo goes ballistic with a silenced Colt Woodsman. (Head shot, ‘natch.) Bobo is a killer with a shiny gun, a face like a burn victim and a heart of gold . . .

A few hours after capping Greely, the happy hitmen are winding down at a Crescent City zydeco bar, waiting for their contact to arrive with the payoff. While Bobo is draining the snake in the salle de bain pour hommes, a cruelly handsome giant (Jason Momoa) guts Bobo’s BFF like a fish. Then the big dude goes after Bobo, who’s still hanging out — literally — in the men’s room.

The rollicking good time had by the 6’4” giant and the diminutive 66-year-old steroid abuser sets the tone for the rest of the movie: two doods rolling around the floor of a backwoods Louisiana roadhouse toilet busting walls and toilets like they’re made out of cheap plywood and brittle plastic (they are).

Bobo and scary knife guy (a.k.a., Keegan) survive the Battle of the Porcelain Convenience, sparing the movie crew from unemployment. The contract killer and the contract killer are both tasked with killing a bunch of people before they can meet-up for their final attempt to push the boundaries of homoerotic violence.

How 'bout that body language? (courtesy geekenstein.com)

In the intervening gap, Washington, D.C. cop Taylor Kwan (heroically underplayed by Sung Kang) arrives to provide some comic relief. Bobo’s killed Kwan’s partner (Greely), who Kwan didn’t like, conveniently enough. Other than the fact that neither man breaks a sweat in America’s ninth most humid metropolis, Kwan and Bobo have nothing in common. So . . . they team up! Who saw that one coming?

Bullet to the Head is as predictable as a Swiss train. The movie tries to relieve the monotony with kink. There’s quasi-sexual repartee with a beautiful braless tattoo babe—who turns out to be Bobo’s daughter. And some naked hitman action after a bust-up in a Turkish bathhouse (above) with a cute girl watching, ending with a Beretta 92FS. The interrogation scene with Jack Nicholson’s clone (above) threatens to go all Tarantino, but finishes quickly with a Winchester 1894.

Am I giving too much away? I didn’t name the movie. Nor did Bullet to the Head invent the cop-and-crook-forced-to-work-together genre. It’s a slightly more violent version of Walter Hill’s 48 Hours. The same Walter Hill who directed Bullet to the Head. Thirty-one years later, Hill gets the action right—including dancing red dots and Glocks a plenty—and the buddy part wrong. Equally, the performances are [Judge] dreadful.

Sylvester Stallone may have a lifetime achievement award from the American Somnambulist Society, but he’s capable of better work. One word: Copland. It’s painful watching Sly in pain, unable to turn his head or a phrase. Or maybe he was as constipated as the dialogue.

Sung Kang, the actor who elevated “Fast and Furious – Tokyo Drift” from the ridiculous to the sublime, turns in a performance that’s as flat as bin dae duk. Kang seems carefully coached in the art of not upstaging Stallone; an easy task for which he deserves an Academy Award. I guess he’ll just have to settle for five million dollars and a couple of points.

Wielding an FNP-45 Tactical in FDE with an open red dot sight as an EDC, Jason Momoa is the show stopper Sly didn’t see coming. Yeah, that Jason Momoa. From Baywatch. And the remake of Conan the Barbarian. With those credentials you’d expect Momoa to suck eggs. Instead he sucks the air out Stallone’s scenes. If Momoa can avoid death by Viper room and scripts like Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, his action movie career is assured.

That said, anyone who’d agree to be seen on screen with the world’s wimpiest red dot optic perched atop a Kel-Tec KSG bullpup shotgun runs the risk of starring in a wretched comedy. Luckily, the hit squad that follows Keegan’s lead into Bobo’s bayou safe house cut loose with Heckler & Koch UMPs, restoring ballistic honor.

No such luck for Bullet to the Head. It’s a solid action adventure movie that’s reeks of missed opportunities. All this movie needed, really, was a script and characters that someone, anyone, would care about.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: Bullet in the Head
Caliber: Magnum dopus
Length:  91 minutes
Action: Galore with plenty of gore and blood on the floor
Finish: Sequel, anyone?
Price: About $30 with popcorn and a soda

RATINGS (out of five bullets):

Style * * * *
Who knew that sudden death was an art form? The body count is somewhere between Commando and The Thin Red Line. The fight scenes are well choreographed, especially the final showdown – with axes — between Stallone and Momoa. The nighttime firefight is a thing of beauty.

Reliability * *
Stallone delivers exactly what you expect from Stallone, which means that all his dialog should be subtitled. For such a stylish and engaging actor, Sung Kang is a major disappointment. The supporting cast is much better, especially Jason Momoa who almost steals the show.

Overall * * * 1/2
There are worse ways to waste time and money, but the fact that this film was released on Super Bowl weekend tells you everything you need to know.

57 Responses to Movie Review: Bullet to the Head

  1. avatarTom jones says:

    You should not put money in the pockets of a hypocrite. Or in fact waste your time it looked really cheesy.

    • avatarAharon says:

      Agreed. SS has spoken out against gun rights. TTAG should not bring attention to his latest film except for calls to identify SS’s hypocrisy and to boycott the film.

      • avatarAccur81 says:

        My wife used to interview celebrities. She says that contacting the talent’s publicist with calls and emails can actually make a difference. The job of the publicist is to continually promote their talent in a positive and marketable manner. How marketable is an anti-gun action hero who appears in countless gun scenes?

        He’ll be less marketable when I boycott his movies, and I tell his publicist why.

      • avatarWLCE says:

        ill go so far as to encourage pirating of the film and other hollywood products.

    • That’s why god invented internet piracy

  2. avatarJohn Boch says:

    Here’s my review: A slimmed-down, leftist gun control advocate Sylvester Stallone falls flat on his atrophied pectorals in a feeble effort to play a tough old guy with perfect hair.

  3. avatarGregolas says:

    I enjoy Ralph’s movie reviews more than I would watching many of the movies I’ve seen. Keep ‘em coming!

  4. avatarBilly Colman says:

    Won’t spend a dime to watch it. Don’t watch Stallone or Schwarzenegger movies at all any more. Everyone that knows me says I would love Django. Won’t contribute money to elitist hypocrites.

    • avatarPhydeaux says:

      +1

    • avatarbruce says:

      Shaking my head and asking myself “why is he giving money to the other side?” even if in his opinion S.S. is worth watching he needs to practice control.

    • avatarTeutonicTenifer says:

      Unfortunately, I had already seen Django when I found out Tarantino was a gun grabber.

      On the bright side, I gave my money to a small local theater rather than an AMC or the like.

  5. avatarDryw says:

    Well-written review. However; even if this Stallone flick laid out in step-by-step detail how I could become fabulously wealthy, ridiculously good-looking, and a damned sexual tyrannosaurus… I would not watch.

    It’s not the content… the the actor. Stallone supports reintroduction of an assault weapons ban and stricter gun control laws. But I guess its cool to glorify hyper-violent use of firearms… so long as its “make believe” and it puts a few sawbucks in your pocket, right? The epitome of hypocrisy.

    Actually, the epitome of hypocrisy would be a street walker demanding strict abstinence laws. That’s completely different… I think.

    • avatarRalph says:

      sexual tyrannosaurus

      +1 for the “Predator” reference.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      That wouldn’t be the epitome of hypocrisy. That would be a market-building exercise by a true pro. “The untaxed marital off-the-books sex trading scam is just a union-busting tactic” claims Professional Sex Workers Union Head Betty Paisgood, “and moving it from New England to Right-to-Work states is blatantly more of the same.” Senator Menendez voiced agreement, claiming “the ‘we’re married’ free sex scam does nothing but shrink nominal GDP and deny working girls a living. Think of the children. I do.”

      Great movie review, BTW.

  6. avatarJim R says:

    I saw this movie on Saturday.

    I enjoyed this review of the movie a lot more than I enjoyed the movie itself.

  7. avatarGreg Camp says:

    A guy named Bonomo who’s a hitman? Could it be someone’s evil twin?

  8. avatarM.Ia says:

    Yay! Now I’ll never have to watch this. Not that I would anyway. Ron Paul and Stallone should watch this together and then they can go choke on metamucil and FOAD.

  9. avatarBilly Colman says:

    Wont spend a dime on it. Don’t watch Stallone or Schwarzenegger movies any more. I don’t support elitist hypocrites. Despite all my acquaintances telling me I would love Django, won’t buy that either.

  10. avatarBrian S says:

    I accidentally watched “To live and die in LA” this weekend (it was free OnDemand)… somehow this sounds worse… and that’s saying something

    • avatar16V says:

      You didn’t like To Live and Die in LA? Seriously? Sure it needed a bigger budget for effects. Sure the Presidential motorcade in the initial scene was too a joke, even for back then. Sure (in retrospect) it was a completely 80s period piece…

      Despite all that, one of the best car chases on film. Far better than French Connection which Friedkin also directed.

      And one of the best coup de grace lines.

      Rick Masters: “18th Century Cameroon? Yes? Your taste is in your ass.”

      • avatarRalph says:

        TL&DILA is definitely a guilty pleasure, because of the acting. Petersen, Dafoe, John Turturro and Dean Stockwell all at the very top of their game. And Debra Feuer was just totally hot.

        • avatar16V says:

          Thanks Ralph, I’m glad someone else gets it. Sure it’s a guilty pleasure compared to current state-of-the-shelf, but back then it was a triple-distillation of Miami Vice.

          Yeah, Feuer was hot. Just like her bi love interest Jane Leaves. Woulda traded a testicle for that 3 way back then…

      • avatarBrian S says:

        yeah, it was seriously horrible! Keep in mind, I’d never seen it before, so I don’t have any fond memories to fall back on :p

        The acting by Petersen was just so LAME! Actually all the acting was lame, and it was like a snowball of cliches rolling downhill to the ending, where the straight laced cop who couldn’t deal with being involved in a crime (not even 30 mins ago), is suddenly a bad ass / pimp. In fact I think the main character didn’t die, he just switched bodies or something!

        It was filmed in the 80′s tho, so I guess cliche isn’t really fair. the car chase was decent, but the gun play (especially in that airport scene) was god awful! Jumping around like a fairy, kicking in doors, hahaha.

        • avatar16V says:

          Fair enough, we all view things through the lens of our own history, and most 20-somethings will find this a cheeze-fest. I do too, sort of. (But seriously, the car chase. Staged, but real cars doing what real cars do, no SFX? Didn’t do it for you? Really?)

          As for the partner’s switch to badass, I would offer that’s character development. People change in response to circumstance and scenario. I’ve seen bigger changes IRL.

          But, really I hear ya. It’s the 50s gangster flick that I can comprehend intellectually, but only resonates with my dad.

  11. avatarSGC says:

    I would not spend a single red cent to see this, and I can’t believe you spent money on it…supporting trash like Stallone. Shame on you!

  12. avatarAharon says:

    ‘finishes quickly with a Winchester 1894′

    What caliber?

  13. avatargost says:

    hypocrite Gk hypokrites stage actor, hence one who pretends to be what he is not.
    Christ called the Pharisees hypocrites. Actors, LIARS. Won’t be wasting my money on this show, even with senior discount. Would rather buy bullets if I can ever find them.

  14. avatarChuck in IL says:

    It would seem that the armed intelligentsia has spoken. They are correct too, we have to stop giving these people our money. Money is power, and giving up your treasure, whether voluntarily to Hollywood or forcibly to Washington, is giving up your power to them.

  15. avatarg says:

    “That said, anyone who’d agree to be seen on screen with the world’s wimpiest red dot optic perched atop a Kel-Tec KSG bullpup shotgun runs the risk of starring in a wretched comedy. Luckily, the hit squad that follows Keegan’s lead into Bobo’s bayou safe house cut loose with Heckler & Koch UMPs, restoring ballistic honor.”

    Hilarious!

    I’m a big Sung Kang fan. Probably the most underrated actor that’s breathed new life into the “Fast & Furious” series along with The Rock in 2009′s “Fast Five.” I mean, he gets to make smart@zz comments, drive fast cars, AND date Gal Gadot? Sounds good to me.

  16. avatarduke nukem says:

    movie review??? in TTAG??? but… why?!?!???

  17. avatarWyndage says:

    People like Stallone glorify violence and desensitize the masses to it; and then they advocate taking my guns? This is just another sign of the twisted world in which we live. I do not own guns because I love violence. On the contrary, I hate violence. I own guns because I love what my guns protect.

    People like Tarantino and Stallone will never see a dollar from me. What they are selling is depraved; what my local gun shop is selling is merely a tool.

  18. avatarPro Gun Brit says:

    And he continues using firearms in his movies, from now on he is dead to me.

  19. avatarSkeev says:

    Still not as good as Rhinestone.

  20. avatarjimf says:

    If you want bodycount…go for The Raid:Redemption…

  21. avatarBLAMMO says:

    I’ll wait for the production of Rambo Goes to New York.

    Tag line: “All he needs is seven rounds and a Cutlery-Corner knife.”

  22. avatarJR LORENCZ says:

    If you watch this film (or The Excrables I & II) you’ll probably want A Bullet to the Head…

  23. avatarWilliam says:

    Great review. I see he wears a ridiculously loose bracelet, which forces him to hold the gun on the horizontal 100% of the time. What a cool, wrinkly, ugly little roidhead.
    Can he turn the gun on himself without losing the gold bracelet?

  24. avatarMOG says:

    It’s a movie……..

  25. avatarLance says:

    I prefer Arnold’s “Last Stand” over this. Never cared to see it. Im waiting for its a Good Day to Die Hard later this month!

  26. avatardeepdiver says:

    I admit that growing up seeing Stallone action movies (Rocky II was the first I remember being old enough to see in theaters) I do find his stuff usually fun. I have especially enjoyed the movies in which he takes himself not so serious and obviously has fun with the role. He most always has a bit of camp he has let shine through. It has made him and his movies, for the most part, very entertaining. Not great cinema, not “films”, not Academy winners, but rather just good old fashioned entertainment which, frankly, is what I usually prefer in a movie.

    Unfortunately, he, like far too many modern celebrities, is incapable of just STFU. Pre-late 1960s no publicist worth his/her salt would let celebrities say half the stuff they say in public today. I’m not going to see this movie. I’m not going to even watch On Demand or rent it. I’m not seeing it until it is on some station to which I already subscribe. I’m not putting $ in the pockets of someone who publicly says he wants to restrict my 2A rights. Period. Sorry Stallone … I’ve enjoyed the last of your movies on a pay to view basis.

  27. avatarLeo338 says:

    I couldn’t even read the entire review so there is no way I would be able to watch the entire movie. I feel bad for the person that had to watch it just so he could review it for us all.

  28. avatarRopingdown says:

    Here’s the problem with this movie genre, regardless of Stallone’s RKBA status: For you comment writers who shoot, the gun action does not define your idea of firearms. You enjoy the drama, debunk the ridiculous, and perhaps collect a few “cool lines.” For the non-shooting public these movies ARE their knowledge of guns. Every gun is portrayed as a fetish object imbued with super-natural power, capable of sending explosive bullets around corners straight to the villain’s heart while the shooter is simultaneously looking in the mirror while taking a piss. And so the anti’s think you must have the same mental associations, and they conclude you must be dangerously bizarre. They’re wrong. But they’ll never know. They’ve been trained.

  29. avatarDave says:

    I would never go see this movie ever. These lefties must pay for their hypocrisy.

  30. avatarVin says:

    Hey guys, which car does Stallone drive at the end of the movie? Appreciate if someone can post please!

  31. avatargeorge bill says:

    The guy has been killing people on screen for 30 yrs, and now he’s stupid enough to say he’s anti gun, Let him give back all the money he made misrepresenting his new ideals. This dirt bag is an opportunist and always has been. He is at every boxing match in Vegas watching blood get spilled.

  32. avatarJoseph R. says:

    What was the Black car he drove off in. Bet my girl it was a Ferrari.Somebody helpppp!

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