Bullet To The Head review

Banana Rating: 1 out of 5

The Expend­ables, and The Expend­ables 2, and the forth­com­ing The Expend­ables 3, and how­ever many Expend­ables films they decide to do until there are no nineteen-eighties action her­oes left stand­ing (prob­ably through arth­ritis), have proven that explo­sions, butt kick­ing, and one liners are still a bank­able commodity.

But just how bank­able are action her­oes these days when removed from the com­fort zone of those movies? How do they fare in their own solo projects?

Bul­let To The Head is Sylvester Stal­lone’s first movie post Expend­ables 1 & 2, without Jason Statham and the rest of the guys to back him up. He plays a small town lock­smith who has looked after his dying mother for the last twenty years, leav­ing him with no time for a love life.

When his mother passes away, she leaves him a mys­ter­i­ous box in her will, and a trail of clues to the loc­a­tion of it’s key. What’s in the box? Will the key unlock the secrets of his past? Or is the box a meta­phor for some­thing deeper? Will the key ulti­mately unlock his heart, where he finds the love he never knew he had for the woman who runs the local diner?

Wait a minute, that’s not right. No, of course it isn’t. He’s play­ing a hit­man. Would he play any­thing else? Well, maybe a cop. Or a cop turned hit­man. Or a hit­man turned cop. Or a sol­dier. Or a sol­dier turned hit­man. Or a moun­tain climber. Or a boxer. Or, and so on and so forth.

Where's the chemistry?

It doesn’t mat­ter. Because the plot’s rub­bish. Wal­ter Hill dir­ects, and he seems to be aim­ing for some­thing like one of his earlier, most suc­cess­ful films, 48 Hours. Aim­ing, and blast­ing wide. Like he was aim­ing at a barn door, and ended up killing a cow in the next field.

How­ever, it’s not like the plot of 48 Hours was par­tic­u­larly amaz­ing. But it did have great buddy chem­istry and banter between Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, and a more youth­ful zip to its dir­ec­tion which kept things mov­ing. The very things which are lack­ing from Bul­let To The Head.

Stal­lone’s “buddy” in this is Sung Kang, a cop who teams up with Stal­lone to get even with some cor­rupt cops and prop­erty bar­ons, or some­thing. I don’t know, motiv­a­tions all round seem pretty limp, like nobody’s really inter­ested. There really is abso­lutely zero chem­istry between Stal­lone and Kang. It’s like the movie belongs to Stal­lone, and Kang is just an inter­loper. The banter between them tries too hard, and isn’t funny. Unlike 48 Hours, there’s no sense of a grow­ing friend­ship between the two. Con­sid­er­ing he’s a cop, Kang’s char­ac­ter lets Stal­lone’s hit­man get away with an awful lot.

Other than Stal­lone and Jason Momoa bat­tling hand-to-hand with fire axes (which reminded me of the ham­mer fight in Streets Of Fire) at the film’s cli­max, giv­ing rise to one of Stal­lone’s bet­ter lines in the movie (“What are we, fuck­ing Vik­ings?”), there’s little to recom­mend Bul­let To The Head.

The axe fight is the only real moment where Wal­ter Hill’s dir­ec­tion genu­inely comes alive, show­ing there’s still a spark of the old genius in there some­where. For the rest of the movie, it’s a spark which never really ignites.