Posted August 20, 2012 by Edward Boff in Films
 
 

Bullet To The Head


By – Edward Boff – Along with The Expendables franchise,

By – Edward Boff

Along with The
Expendables franchise, Bullet in the Head
(which should definitely not be
confused with the John Woo movie of
the same name) is another attempt by Sylvester
Stallone
to prove, in the words of Riggs and Murtaugh that he’s not
“getting too old for this ****.” Too old; maybe, maybe not. But there’s little arguing with the second part of that
quote.

Hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone. Seriously? BOBO?) is having a rough day; he didn’t
get paid for his latest job and his partner’s (Holt McCallany) been knifed by his boss’ new favourite hitman (Jason Momoa). However, cop Taylor Kwong (Sung Kang) may just have the info Bobo needs to get revenge… but
will Kwong co-operate?

The set-up, a cop and a criminal have to work together,
would suggest a buddy movie vibe and it’s clear that’s what the filmmakers
want; too bad that vibe never works.
The most important thing about buddy movies is for the leads to have
chemistry; Stallone and Kung have none and it’s hard to tell whether it’s the
actors or (and?) the script to blame (although Stallone didn’t have any spark
with his hitman partner at the start either). What passes for “banter” between the two basically
comes down to borderline racist insults for the most part. Even worse is the way that cop
character Kwong, who should be the film’s moral centre and voice of reason is
treated. It becomes obvious extremely
fast that Kwong is there basically to be utterly ineffectual and wrong about
absolutely everything so as to let Bobo brutalise his way through the plot.

As for plot, it’s a flimsy thing that’s barely worthy of the
name, little more than a rough justification for action set-pieces. The villains’ scheme revolves all
around real estate fraud which takes place entirely off-screen and we never see
any real consequences of it, we’re only given really clunky exposition, so it’s
nearly impossible to care. Basically,
main villain Morel (Adewale
Akinnuoye-Agbaje
) is only the villain because he keeps sending mooks to
kill Bobo. Akinnuoye-Agbaje does a
good job and is the only worthwhile performance in the whole film but he’s
still as underused and underwritten as everyone else of any talent here. The whole thing is just a long string
of poorly put together clichés with absolutely no self-awareness. With the pacing and lack of good
dialogue, it’s a slog to sit through.
The actors feel the same way it seems, as not only are they not cast
with outside the box thinking (Christian
Slater
as a drugged up and drunk party boy? Inspired!), the film doesn’t know what to do with them most
of the time. For a start, Stallone
should never do narration, especially narration this pointless. Also, Jason Momoa is trying for a cool
villain performance but he’s so underwritten all he gets is one brief monologue
and a permanent wrinkling of his brow.

Final nails in the coffin are the action scenes and
direction. Director Walter Hill has some well-respected
works under his belt, so it’s staggering how inept this can be at times. This isn’t terrible direction but it’s
so underwhelming; the opening flash-forward scene (which is utterly pointless
since it flashes forward to a fairly unimportant scene) is shot so badly it’s
hard to tell what just happened and that goes for more than a few other moments
too. The action scenes are all
badly staged, and terminally infected with the banes of modern action scenes;
too much cutting and editing and very poor choices of camera angles to the
point it’s incomprehensible.

Uninspired action, a poor and insulting storyline, phoned in
performances and really bad decisions all-round, this is just a mess, and not
even an entertaining mess. There’s
not even enough here to enjoy on a “Friday night drunken video rental
making fun of it” level, it’s just boring. At least The Expendables has some idea how stupid and silly
it all is, Bullet in the Head wishes it could have even that low level of
enjoyment. Skip.


Edward Boff