Directed by Walter Hill
Hitman James “Jimmy Bobo” Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) must work together to find out why their respective partners were killed. Together they must wade through a sea of corruption in New Orleans to bring down the person responsible. It’s your basic revenge flick.
The two mains aren’t bad overall in the film. They help carry the movie such as it is and make it worth watching. Sung Kang is always a pleasure to watch. I haven’t seen Kang in too much but he’s always enjoyable. He plays the slight a-hole in every movie that I’ve seen. Kind of the same thing Robert Downey Jr. does. Kang always comes off as enjoying himself up on the screen. He definitely helps give a boost to the mediocre material here.
Stallone is just iconic. He’s been in so many movies that people just love whether they like to admit it or not. And he has a presence that you can’t deny. Together these two are very good. They have a nice dynamic onscreen and play very well off of each other.
Christian Slater plays lawyer Marcus Baptiste. He puts in a halfhearted effort here playing the morally questionable lawyer. He’s a good actor but his efforts are wasted in what amounts to a small part. He is very talented but at this point was not doing well in his career. I’m guessing they were hoping to give some shine to this movie on the cheap by casting him. I don’t know.
Jason Momoa plays hitman Keegan. His hitman is more noble assassin than cold-blooded killer. On television at one point he starred on Stargate Atlantis as Ronan Dex who was a noble warrior. Momoa just takes that performance and makes it a little darker here. You could almost see Keegan and Jimmy Bobo joining forces at the very end to wipe out the bad guys. At least before Keegan tried to kill Jimmy. I thought that was going to happen the more they showed Keegan.
Mamoa’s status has obviously grown since this film and he does well enough with what he’s given. I just think if his character had been a little bit better fleshed out, he could’ve done much more. You can’t half ass a villain that’s in a good chunk of the movie. It never works out. Keegan feels slapped together.
Speaking of half assed, the plot revolves around a land scheme and the character behind it is kind of half assed in his creation. He’s a one note villain. Robert Nkomo Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is supposed to be a criminal mastermind but doesn’t come off as such. For example, he uses a specific group of hitmen (good idea) led by Keegan to handle his dirty work but for some reason decided to use Jimmy instead for the hit at the beginning (bad idea). The hit that immediately followed on Jimmy’s partner by Keegan was to silence witnesses (even worse idea).
It would’ve been less complicated and easier to control witnesses if he kept the work in house rather than randomly farming it out through intermediaries before it reached Jimmy and his partner. You’ve just created a whole trail of witnesses in commission of a very serious crime. This guy is supposed to be so smart, yet he does something dumb like that.
Worse yet everybody is disposable to the villain. That’s pretty much how it works in real life as well but even in movies the villain usually knows not to advertise it. The bad part is this guy makes it no secret. He practically has it printed on T-shirts and on his business card. There is no way you could be as free with killing witnesses and subordinates as he is and get very far in the real or fictional criminal underworld before either being taken out by other criminals or before the police get a hold of you. It just undermines trust and support.
Walter Hill tries his usual bag of tricks and it just doesn’t work here. He’s done some great stuff in his time but just can’t make this movie really work. In the past he’s likened everything he’s done to westerns, but this doesn’t feel like a western. It is a by-the-numbers revenge movie. The performances as a whole are pretty good, but the story just never comes together. It feels more like a well-produced television movie and not a theatrical release.
Bullet to the Head is an OK movie. Not worthy of a theatrical release. It probably would have made more money or been an easier tax write off if it was direct to video. It’s an OK movie but it feels like the script was half done and they just decided to wing it the rest of the way. It could have been much better, but it still somehow manages to be mostly enjoyable. If you’re into mindless action this isn’t a bad movie. If you’re expecting something a little more sophisticated-which the basic concept could have supported-then you might end up disappointed. It’s not a must watch but it’s not a bad one time watch either.