Bullet to the Head

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Laura Clifford 
Bullet to the Head

Robin Clifford 

When their respective partners are murdered, hit man Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) takes an unlikely partner in detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang, "Fast Five") to find the killer and administer a "Bullet to the Head."

Laura:
Seventy-one year-old action director Walter Hill ("The Warriors," "Wild Bill") partners for the first time with sixty-six year old action star Sylvester Stallone and while both have seen better days, Stallone, at least, can still deliver the goods.  As in Hill's 1982 film "48 Hours," an old white dude is paired with a minority in a forced buddy relationship, but this time it's the old white dude who's the criminal.  But Hill can't give Oscar-nominated screenwriter Alessandro Camon's ("The Messenger") adaptation of the French graphic novel any gravitas, instead offering up one character after another for Stallone to make mincemeat out of.

You won't care who the bad guy is here.  Heck, you'll hardly be convinced of the partnership setup, given that it was Bobo and his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda, HBO's 'Treme') who accomplished the hit on Kwon's ex-partner Hank Greely (Holt McCallany), a former DC cop so corrupt Kwon obviously could care less about the man.  But, for some unstated reason, he's been sent from DC to New Orleans to investigate the murder.  Bobo may be a hit man, but he has his own code that includes 'no women, no children,' which doesn't explain why he threatens to kill the hooker who could ID him but relents when he sees her black panther tattoo.  Later, when Bobo and Blanchard go to a bar to pick up their pay, they're both attacked by Keegan (Jason Momoa, 2011's "Conan the Barbarian"), who guts Blanchard but lets the older man get away.

There's a side trip to tat parlor artist Lisa (Sarah Shahi, SHOWtime's 'The L Word') to illegally treat Kwon's gunshot wound.  Kwon assumes one think about the woman and discovers another - she's a plot point to complicate his relationship with Bobo.  Ronnie Earl (Brian Van Holt, TV's 'Cougar Town') leads the men to Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater, "True Romance"), where Keegan pops up again, and there are a whole lot of beatings, stabbings, shootings and explosions before the true power is found.  And after a Bobo/Keegan axe fight, it's pretty anticlimactic.

Sung Kang adds some softness as the cop who prefers to go by the book.  He wears the emotion Bobo hides behind a tough exterior on his sleeve.  Stallone still has the star power, though, well past his 80's heyday.  With a weird brush cut that looks applied and bulging muscles roadmapped with veins, he's not as pretty as he used to be, but he knows his way around a line, even when delivered with drooped lower lip, and has the good grace not to take himself too seriously.  He and Kang work well together.

If the script cannot pull us into its plot, it offers tasty tidbits around the edges, like the constant barrage of comedic, un-PC and self aware racial slurs Kwon has heaped upon him or Bobo's habit of carrying around his own brand of bourbon ('Here's $20 to rent the glass.').  Hill alternates between violence and traversing the city streets with occasional pauses for character development/barb trading.  Unfortunately he uses a sickly yellow wash to freeze frames and transition scenes which look like he's gone for a 'Piss Christ' effect.  He and Stallone have a good chuckle in one street scene where Stallone, holding his gun by his side in profile, appears to be having a 'who's swinging the bigger one' contest with his costar.

"Bullet to the Head" isn't a very good movie, but it should suit Stallone fans just fine.

C+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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