"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. 21, 2014
The bad news for "Wild": Director Jean-Marc Vallée, at least three films into his career this side of the Canadian border, specializes in making Oscar bait. No, wait; don't run away quite yet, because the flip side is that Vallée has mastered the art of making Oscar bait that doesn't feel like it. And now he's pulling off the same trick with "Wild."
Published Dec. 20, 2014
With its brand of rock music uncoils, cracks and unleashes in sharp, aggressive, raw fashion with a swift dash of sex appeal, Whips is an remarkably appropriate name for the Milwaukee-based rock foursome. And now the quartet has a new LP, "Turn It On," arriving Saturday night at a record release show at the Cactus Club.
Published Dec. 19, 2014
"The Interview" was canceled this past week amongst hack attacks and terrorist threats. It doesn't matter that this happened to THIS particular movie. What matters is what this means for ALL movies. And what this moment represents is a terrible precedent for the future of film and art altogether.
Published Dec. 17, 2014
When I arrived to interview Harlem Globetrotter Sweet J Ekworomadu - the 12th female player in the team's 89-year history - in advance of their traditional New Year's Eve game at the BC, I was asked if I wanted to play a game of horse with Sweet J. Considering I hadn't shot a basketball since probably middle school, I couldn't turn down the opportunity fast enough. I was, however, able to ask some one-on-one questions with Ekworomadu.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
The story behind "It's a Wonderful Life" is now almost as well-known as the story of George Bailey himself. The movie performed below expectations back in 1946, but several decades later, as the movie made its way into the public domain, "It's a Wonderful Life" grew into a holiday classic. Now there's many renditions of the story, including a staged radio show version - complete with old school sound effects - coming to the Marcus Center.
Published Dec. 15, 2014
Fans have been routinely left waiting for a Chris Rock movie that truly plays up to the standard of Chris Rock. Luckily, the wait is over with the arrival of "Top Five," a loose-limbed comedy about celebrity that feels like a movie worthy of its star - in both its voice and its significant supply of laughs.
Published Dec. 12, 2014
2014 is coming to a close, which means it's time to put my first full calendar year as an official working, adult member of society in the books (well, jury's still out on the adult part). Here are some of the most memorable moments - both good and bad - from a most memorable year.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
Luckily, what's currently housed and featured at the Racine Art Museum is just as interesting and compelling as the building itself: an expansive two-part exhibition called "in(Organic)," a compilation of art works that combine the natural and unnatural - in terms of thematic meaning and artistic medium - in ways both beautiful and often unnerving.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
What doesn't kill you supposedly makes you stronger. In the case of the sneakily incisive new Swedish dark comedy "Force Majeure," however, what doesn't kill you reveals your deepest faults to all of your loved ones. And they are not impressed.
Published Dec. 8, 2014
2014 was the year of the selfie. In the beginning of the year, there was the great Oscars selfie, a photo that literally broke Twitter for a few seconds. The word existed before, but after that, suddenly news stations and outlets were attempting to cram it into every headline (similar to "twerk" in 2013) and everybody was getting on board with the word. A part of that selfie insanity was the irony-drenched EDM hit "#Selfie" from The Chainsmokers.