As a movie fan in the 1980s I was a huge fan of both Sylvester Stallone and director Walter Hill. Sly was kicking ass over and over, from the various “Rocky” and “Rambo” films to “Night Hawks” and “Tango and Cash.” And Hill, coming off “The Warriors,” was creating such gems as “The Long Riders,” “Southern Comfort” and, of course, “48 Hours.” It’s taken the two of them three decades to finally work together and I’m happy to say that the resulting film doesn’t disappoint.
Jimmy (Stallone) and Louis (Jon Seda) are hit men. Their current assignment finds them visiting a man in his hotel room. The deed is done but a witness is left behind…a woman who Jimmy discovers in the shower but doesn’t kill. Asked if the woman could identify him Jimmy replies, “she won’t.” Later that night both men, while waiting for their payment, are attacked and Louis is killed. Needless to say, Jimmy isn’t happy. He not only has to find the man who killed Louis but he still wants his money! And he’s not a patient man.
Two weeks ago the enjoyable return of 66 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger was deemed a failure because it didn’t have a big weekend at the box office. And that may happen this weekend for Stallone, also 66. Which is a shame because, 35 years after the fact, he still has the screen presence that caused Roger Ebert to compare him to Marlon Brando after the release of “Rocky.” In “Bullet to the Head” he becomes partners with Washington D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang, probably best known for his work in several of the past “Fast and Furious” films). Their relationship is typical good cop/bad cop (or in this case good cop/bad hit man) and it’s their exchanges that give the film a sense of humor. Jimmy isn’t fond of Kwon’s Asian heritage and prefers to call him Odd Job (not to be outdone, another character calls Kwon Kato) and Kwon marvels at how stuck in the 20th Century Jimmy is. However, when the time comes, both men excel at dispatching the bad guys, with each action scene a testament to the talent of director Hill.
The supporting cast also does well, including Slater and “Lost’s” Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the resident bad guys of New Orleans. Credit also Sarah Shahi as Jimmy’s tattooed daughter and the screen’s most recent Conan the Barbarian, Jason Momoa, as the baddest dude Sly has tangled with in a long time. Also credit Momoa for taking a character that begins very one dimensional and giving him some life. And also give a round of applause to the visual effects department. “Bullet to the Head” isn’t just a clever name…the film has a pretty hefty death count with the bullets pretty much hitting everywhere!