Bullet to the Head
Or as I like to call it, Mumbles and the Cell Phone.
From the first few seconds, as you watch a bullet flying straight toward you and tearing through the logos of the many companies that brought you this film, you know that Bullet to the Head is going to be “one of those movies.” As much as it tries to be an over-the-top thrill ride, it’s probably one of the safest flicks I’ve seen in years. It’s a formulaic film that borders on trashy, but is nostalgic of the classics of yesteryear that made its star and director so famous.
Dude, you need me. I have a phone and know how to use the internet.
The film rests on Sylvester Stallone’s shoulders, mostly because he’s the only really interesting character in it. The name of the game in Bullet to the Head is attitude, and his character is packed to the gills with it. It’s the same kind of attitude that worked so well in the 80s in movies like 48 Hrs and Lethal Weapon, but it lacks the sort of creativity to give the character any depth. Essentially, he’s a racist, foul-mouthed dinosaur. In true “buddy cop” fashion, he is paired with a Korean-American cop (Sung Kang) to investigate a series of murders with which Stallone just happens to be mixed up. Of course, in order for a buddy movie like this to work, both characters have to bring something to their partnership, All Detective Kwan brings is a cell phone.
Bro, do you lift? You look like you lift.
The most disappointing aspect of the film, though, is Jason Mamoa, not because he does a bad job, but because the movie spends all its time telling us how bad-ass he is, but it never really shows us. Sure, he has his final fight with Stallone, and the idea of these two muscle-bound tough guys swinging axes at each other seems like a great finale, but it’s really not. Personally, when it comes to movies, I think actions speak louder than words, and while this movie had its fair share of action, it was all old-school stuff that lacked the edge needed to convince me Stallone still had enough left in him to be anything more than a gentle reminder that he used to be a big deal.
I’m sure that Bullet to the Head will find quite an audience with action aficionados. It’s just that I feel like I’ve seen this all before as a kid. It’s a fluff action film, one that never seems to realize how dated it really is. It’s as old-school as you can get, which is fine except that it never gives the audience that self-realizing wink to reassure them that it’s doing it for their sake so they can have a good time. Instead, it plays it straight-faced, tossing about one-liners, gratuitous nudity and plenty of bullets to the head. It’s an homage to the 1980s in the same way Quentin Tarantino does homages. In other words, it tries to pass itself off as edgy and cool, but only comes across as self-indulgent. Like I said, it’s not an awful movie, it’s just an underwhelming one.
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