"Bullet to the Head," the latest '80s-style action film hoping to serve as a potential career rejuvenator for its aging star, isn't the kind of movie that I would technically classify as good. The direction is a little sloppy, the acting is, um, competent and the plot and script are best left undiscussed.
All of that technical tomfoolery is irrelevant, however, considering it's also the most fun I've had at the theater so far in 2013 (keep in mind what I've had to choose from). While most of these nostalgic tributes feel like they're grasping for what made that decade's action movies ridiculously entertaining and trying desperately to recapture the good ol' days, "Bullet to the Head" is an actual '80s film that somehow got released in 2013. If I said that to the producers and creators of this movie, I think they'd say that's the greatest compliment they could ask for.
The lumpy mass of muscles and veins known as Sylvester Stallone stars as Jimmy Bonomo – his friends call him Jimmy Bobo, a name that could only be used for an '80s action movie hero or a clown – a New Orleans hitman out for revenge after his partner Louis (Jon Seda) is killed after a relatively routine job on a corrupt policeman.
Bobo's plan for revenge mainly consists of brooding in a bar until Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), the dead corrupt policeman's old partner from out of town, says he wants to help Bobo get revenge. The two scour the Crescent City for clues, leading them to a bigger conspiracy involving a crippled political player (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Mr. Eko from "Lost"), his loose cannon assassin (Jason Momoa, last seen ripping out people's tongues as Khal Drogo on "Game of Thrones") and Christian Slater. That's right; Christian Slater still appears in movies.
As soon as a viewer is able to ignore the absurd and laughably non-existent plot, "Bullet to the Head" becomes a whole lot of awesome action-packed silliness. I tried keeping track of the logic inconsistencies and unexplained character developments near the beginning of the film (I would need to see the movie at least a few more times – which I'm totally okay with – before I could explain the bad guys' convoluted plan or anybody's motivation besides Bobo), but after a while, its lovably lunk-headed logic won me over.
I think it was soon after the classic '80s trope of a chase scene interrupted by a random parade that I was in silly genre movie heaven.
Everything that one would go to a movie like "Bullet to the Head" for is just right. The action, as directed by veteran Walter Hill (making his first film since 2002's prison boxing drama "Undisputed"), is shockingly satisfying. An early fight scene in a tiny bar bathroom has the kind of reckless destruction of Hill's '70s cult classic "The Warriors," and it doesn't let up until after its climax, involving tons of action movie goofiness and an axe fight between Stallone and Momoa that plays as awesome as it sounds.
As you'd expect from the writer and director of "48 Hours," whenever punches aren't being thrown around, quip-filled buddy banter is. The dialogue has an entertainingly blunt zip, and while none of the actors are going to have the SAG Awards calling anytime soon, Stallone has enough silly straight-faced macho charisma to make the zingers work, and Kang checks his cell phone for texts and clues like the best of them.
It's at times like these when the star rating system becomes completely irrelevant. I would never call it good or even well made (Hill is strangely addicted to quick zooms and yellow-tinted transition flares), but I thoroughly enjoyed "Bullet to the Head – more so than any other movie so far in 2013. Unlike the other '80s nostalgia trips that came before, it's not winking so hard that it can barely open its eyes again ("The Last Stand") or trying to give itself a false sense of gravitas ("The Expendables" films, namely part one).
"Bullet to the Head" knows what it is: mouth-breathingly dumb. And I wouldn't want it any other way.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Dec. 6, 2013
For about its first hour, I was fairly on board the new Rust Belt drama "Out of the Furnace." But then I realized where the movie was going. The path - one of cliché and mildly ridiculous revenge thriller pulp - became clear and obvious, and I couldn't have wanted it to stop more. But it didn't. Now, I'm left with a movie that's by no means bad but disappointing, a passable waste of exceptional potential.
Published Dec. 4, 2013
For the second year in a row, the crew down at The Second City in Chicago is coming up to Milwaukee for the holidays to present a holiday comedy special, this time called "The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue." OnMilwaukee caught up with one of the stars, Megan Hovde, to ask about the holiday revue, being a part of The Second City and why "The Golden Girls" is one of her comedy icons.
Published Dec. 3, 2013
Stars Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are taking their hit show, "Mythbusters," on the road, and tomorrow night, their "Behind the Myths" tour arrives at the Milwaukee Theater. OnMilwaukee got a chance to talk to Hyneman and ask him about the show's most memorable myths.
Published Dec. 2, 2013
The sun carries almost no heat or warmth. A sharp face-tingling chill greets you as turn every corner on the street. There's not even any wonderful white snow on the ground to make the weather seem any more pleasant. Nope, it's just cold. It's hard to think of a better, more fitting time for Sheryl Crow, the singer-songwriter behind warm, summery hits like "Soak Up the Sun" and "All I Wanna Do," to come to town.
Published Nov. 29, 2013
For those with that built-in affection for the film and the sweet, innocent days of times long gone past, "White Christmas" might be perfect. For me, though, the show - which opened Tuesday night at the Marcus Center - was a whole lot of holly-drenched hokum, as fresh as a Christmas Day snow in the dregs of March.
Published Nov. 28, 2013
"Philomena" may be modest, but that modesty is surprisingly striking and rewarding. After my original screening, I found myself having a hard time putting the movie down in my head. I had to see it a second time, and that second look confirmed my lingering suspicions: It's a damn fine movie.
Published Nov. 27, 2013
Most of the pre-movie Disney or Pixar shorts serve as a nice, tasty appetizer before the main course, but "Get a Horse!" - Mickey Mouse's first theatrical animated short since 1995's nightmare-inducing, childhood-ruining "Runaway Brain" - seems perfect and almost integral for "Frozen." It delightfully sets the stage for what the feature presentation is about to do: take Disney's old traditions and bring them to fresh, blissful new life.
Published Nov. 27, 2013
Christopher Donahue isn't what you'd expect from an actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge, one of the famous grumps of stage, screen and literature. He's gracious, soft-spoken and a bit self-depreciating. The only Scroogish thing about him is his fully-grown beard, a mutton chops/mustache combination technically called "a hulihee" (he looked it up).
Published Nov. 25, 2013
When most movie fans hear the phrase "found footage," they normally cringe in fear. It's a gimmick now down to death in Hollywood. The good ones are hard to find; the bad ones are far too easy to find. That's not what the Found Footage Festival, returning to Milwaukee Friday night at the Turner Hall Ballroom, is about at all. Their collection of actual found VHS tapes is bad alright, but the best, most hilarious kind of bad.
Published Nov. 22, 2013
"Delivery Man," the new comedy starring Vince Vaughn, better at being sweet than being funny. Then again, it's hard for a movie to effectively tug at the heartstrings when its own heart clearly isn't in it.