"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 July 3, 2015
In fact, other than some busy confetti cannons - and I mean very busy - OK Go's 90-minute set pushed aside any sign of the viral video prop-heavy gimmickry the band is most famous for and instead relied on its power pop rock music and some charming banter to click with the Summerfest crowd. And, as it turns out, that was more than enough to deliver an awesome and entertaining evening.
Published July 2, 2015
Barely two years after his first show in 2013, WebsterX is now living his dream world he created of being a rap star. The 22-year-old rapper has risen to become one of the Milwaukee music scene's biggest stars, grabbing local and national headlines and, most recently, opening for global superstar Lupe Fiasco at the Miller Lite Oasis on Friday, July 3 at 8 p.m.
Published July 2, 2015
During his Amphitheater performance Wednesday night, Kendrick Lamar noted the last time he was here, "the energy was so motherf*ckin' loud," and if that was a 10, he wanted this show to hit a 12. Well, it certainly felt like a 12, with the packed crowd bobbing their heads, swaying their arms and just generally going crazy for every verse. And even though it barely lasted 60 minutes, Lamar's vigorous fireball of a set gave them plenty to go crazy about.
Published July 1, 2015
I'll admit it; before Tuesday night's Marcus Amphitheater show started up, one of those people was me. I wondered why a band, whose last seemingly notable moments came at the service of three-fourths of Michael Bay's "Transformers" franchise, was a Big Gig Amp headliner. Well, one large serving of crow, please, cooked medium rare.
Published June 30, 2015
Most bands desperately hope that their music videos will go viral. For pop rockers OK Go, at this point, it's almost expected. With a Summerfest headliner set scheduled for the Uline Warehouse on Thursday, July 2, I chatted with bassist/vocalist Tim Nordwind about the band's stories behind some of their viral sensations.
Published June 30, 2015
After traveling the globe in support of its star-making self-titled debut album, PHOX's tour is bringing the band right back to where its journey started in the first place: Wisconsin. Before it heads home to Baraboo, the band is dropping by its "home away from home" of Milwaukee to play Summerfest, opening for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros on Thursday, July 2. Before then, we talked to Matt Holmen about his own fond Big Gig memories.
Published June 29, 2015
According to, well, herself, DJ Paris Hilton is one of the top paid DJs currently working. Unfortunately, much like the "Transformers" movies, her Summerfest set was one of those situations where the amount of the money involved was inversely proportionate to the amount of skill on display. Also like the "Transformers" films, it was loud, clunky, sporadically dull despite all of the noise, unnecessarily lengthy and, by the end, left me in a little bit of pain.
Published June 28, 2015
If you've seen Disney/Pixar's latest animated hit "Inside Out," there's a good chance a certain song has been rattling around in your mind ever since. No, not that TripleDent gum jingle, but the chorus to "Lava," the brief and beautifully rendered short about a volcanic island looking for love. While the short takes plenty of inspiration from Hawaii, as it turns out, Murphy's journey to get there made a stop right here in Milwaukee.
Published June 28, 2015
As clearly proved Saturday night at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, "Shut Up And Dance" pop rockers Walk The Moon can now draw a packed house. The only question: Would they put on a show worthy of the face painted mob they gathered? Most certainly.
Published June 27, 2015
For a guy whose latest album was titled "Can't Even Do Wrong Right," a lot has gone pretty right for legendary blues rocker Elvin Bishop over the past 365 days - an award-winning new album, a place on the soundtrack of one of Hollywood's biggest hits, a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and now a headliner gig at Summerfest on Tuesday, June 30.