Bullet to the Head
You want violence? I’ll give you some violence. I’ll give you Bullet to the Head. That will give you enough violence to last a year.
It is filled with cold-blooded murders, knifings, and brutal fights.
There is so much violence that I frankly never saw any plot. Sylvester Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a hitman who teams up with a cop, Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), as they both try to revenge the murders of their respective partners. As plots go, that’s not much, but I guess it’s enough excuse for violent mayhem.
Not surprisingly Alessandro Camon’s script is based on a graphic novel, Du Plomb Dans La Téte. Graphic novels probably wouldn’t exist without violence. However, Walter Hill directs this with admirable pace and humor. Hill is no stranger to a witty, cop-criminal film, having directed the classic 48 Hrs. (1982) starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy early in his career.
Shot in and around New Orleans, the atmospheric locations are part of what sets this movie a little above the normal action film.
Stallone still mumbles the lines, but his timing is pretty good and the jokes are well done. Violent as the film is, the special effects are impressive. Along those lines, the choreography of an ax fight near the end of the film between Bobo and Keegan (Jason Momoa) is exceptional by stunt coordinators JJ Perry and Noon Orsatti. The film is full of stunts and their quality is what sets this film apart from others in the genre. In fact, Perry says, “I jumped at the opportunity to work with Walter Hill because he is one of my heroes. It was he – and directors like him in the ‘80s – who pushed the action wave that stunt men like me are still riding. We’re all indebted to him.”
The film contains a fine cast. In addition to Momoa, who is frightening as the brutal killer, it includes Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays the ruthless crime boss Robert Nkomo Morel, and Christian Slater, who plays Baptiste, a shady lawyer.
Even though the film is entertaining, there is far too much violence. Films this violent are destructive to society. As I’ve said many times in the past, when films show such graphic displays of violence with little physical or emotional consequence to the protagonists, it desensitizes the audience. Movies like this must bear their fair share of the blame for violent acts that occur in our society.
“Not for children?” Not for anyone. It’s bad enough to watch Al Pacino lumber through yet another role overacting every second. But to watch him do it with such a deficient script (Noah Haidle) and lackluster directing (Fisher Stevens) is agony no moviegoer should be required to endure.
The first hour is apparently a feeble attempt at a set up for the final half-hour. It consists of lifeless dialogue between Pacino and Christopher Walken, including a continuous Viagra joke that is old and unfunny. While Pacino overacts outrageously (what else is new?) Walken appears as if he has just been awakened so he could say his lines before he falls asleep again. It’s probably hard for Pacino to get work these days, but Walken is a lot better than this.
The only time the movie picks up is when Alan Arkin appears near the end of the film. He breathes a little life into the stale script, but it’s too little too late.
I didn’t see this in a critics’ screening. Rather, I was invited to a promotional screening sponsored by a radio station. Amazingly, the audience applauded when it ended. I can’t believe that anybody could have been entertained by this film, although there were occasional spurts of laughter throughout, and can only assume that the audience was applauding that it had, in fact, finally ended.