Bullet To The Head has a lot of strings to its bow.
It starts off by showing Sylvester Stallone putting lots of bullets in people’s heads, but then moves on to show him putting bullets in their chests, their shoulders, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll see him dispense with his gun and just go for good old-fashioned fisticuffs, smacking the bad guys into the wall. Or a toilet cubicle. He’s a handyman’s dream customer.
We first see Stallone, as hitman James Bonomo, going into a hotel with partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) to deal with local bad guy Hank Greely (Holt McCallany), but Bonomo, aka Jimmy Bobo, has a policy of “no women, no kids”, so when he comes across a hooker in the shower, he doesn’t take her out, but there’s another reason for that which you’ll learn during the film.
Thanks to a set-up, the pair are attacked in a bar by a heavy called Keegan (Jason Momoa, below), leaving Louis dead but Bonomo escapes, naturally, otherwise the film would end even more quickly than its brief 91-minute running time. Keegan works for this film’s big baddie, Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who some will know from Lost, but I remember best as Simon Adebesi from the wonderful prison drama Oz), and who employs bent lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater, bottom pic).
Enter Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), WDCPD (too many letters), which means he’s from Washington DC, who has his own reasons for wanting to know what happened to Greely, and is forced to team up with our heroic hitman because they both have a common goal of wanting to find out who’s at the top of the ladder who ordered the set-up.
Neither Slater, nor ‘AAA’ lend any weight to being a bigwig in this film, as that is dealt with mostly by Momoa as Keegan. There’s also reasonable support from Sarah Shahi as Bonomo’s tattooist daughter Lisa.
Overall, Bullet To The Head is a film which feels like a late 80’s/early 90’s action film that’s in need of some pepping up, so if you approach it in that way it won’t be too bad, even allowing for the predictability that pitching an Italian with an Asian makes the script throw in a couple of cheap, racist jibes at each other. There’s some clumsy fight direction in a Turkish bath house, but on the plus side, rarely does a scene outlay its welcome. Stallone mumbles even more than usual, so it was actually a help that this was the one screening at the Odeon Trafford Centre which came complete with subtitles(!)
Running time: 91 minutes
Released: February 1st 2013
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (Super 35)
Director: Walter Hill
Producers: Alfred Gough, Alexandra Milchan, Miles Millar, Joel Silver and Kevin King Templeton
Screenplay: Alessandro Camon (based on the graphic novel “Du plomb dans la tête” by Matz)
Music: Steve Mazzaro
James Bonomo: Sylvester Stallone
Taylor Kwon: Sung Kang
Lisa Bonomo: Sarah Shahi
Robert Nkomo Morel: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Keegan: Jason Momoa
Marcus Baptiste: Christian Slater
Louis Blanchard: Jon Seda
Hank Greely: Holt McCallany
Ronnie Earl: Brian Van Holt
Lola: Weronika Rosati
Lt. Lebreton: Dane Rhodes
Detective Towne: Marcus Lyle Brown
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.