Growing up, watching action movies in the late 1980s and early 1990s Sylvester Stallone was one star that I just could never get excited about seeing. Over the years I’ve softened my stance on him, although he still sits as my least favorite of the action power trio that also includes Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. After joining together for some on-screen action in The Expendables 2, all three have set out to flex their independent muscles.
Arnold came first with the fun, but ultimately disappointing The Last Stand. Now, two weeks before the grand finale, that is Bruce Willis’ A Good Day to Die Hard, Stallone assaults us with Bullet to the Head. And assault us he does, with a film that desperately tries to capture the essence of the best action films of the 80s but fails at nearly every turn.
Bullet to the Head, directed by Walter Hill (48 Hours, Red Heat), sees Stallone as the contract killer Jimmy Bonomo. Jimmy, who I honestly thought throughout the film was being called Bo-Bo, and his partner execute a mark in the opening moments of the film but its quickly revealed that they were set up and Jimmy’s partner ends up as dead as the hit. Enter Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) who needs to track down the people financing the original hit as his case hinges on evidence that he had. Kwon quickly ties Jimmy to the hit and seeks to partner up with him.
As far as storytelling goes, it is all pretty cliché with Jimmy and Kwon clashing at every turn. Their differences are made to be comic relief but it never works and Stallone and Kang both seem brutally miscast in their roles, with neither being able to play off the other. To his credit Stallone, who is 66 years old, looks amazing, easily looking more impressive than his nemesis in the film played by Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, Game of Thrones).
When it comes down to it, Bullet to the Head just is not a very good film. It’s a tired storyline done better in other movies and one would be better off watching the hundreds of 1980s action films that do so.