Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje
Running Time: 91 minutes
Release Date: February 2
A new Jurassic Park is due for release next year, but fear not movie fans, you won’t have to wait over until 2014 to see some dinosaurs on the big screen. Dumped unceremoniously in the January/February window—a place where bad movies go to die—you can once again see Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger hide the protruding guts and receding hair lines. Free rounds at Planet Hollywood for all. Arnie was first out of the block last week with The Last Stand while Bruce returns on Valentine’s Day with another calamitous installment of John McClane: Harbinger Of Doom.
For Sly, his offering is Bullet To The Head, a pulpy, down and dirty trawl through the New Orleans underworld. Stallone plays hitman Jimmy Bobo, who after icing another mark gets double crossed by his employers and is forced to team with an out of town cop (Fast And Furious alumnus, Sung Kang) in order to exact revenge. It’s Mardi Gras in a movie, if Mardi Gras was a celebration of hammy dialogue, wooden acting and casual racism.
Stallone is his usual stoic cantankerous self, sounding like he’s been gargling some of N’Orleans’ finest gumbo every time he grunts. His one-liner ammunition is limited (“We gonna fight or do you plan on boring me to death?”), amounting to vague threats of brick bludgeoning and immediately tiring Asians can’t drive jokes. He still manages to pack quite a punch though. The years may have brought rust to the man, but there’s no doubting he’s still made of metal.
Director Walter Hill was something of a buddy-cop pioneer in the ’80s with movies like 48 Hours and Red Heat. He’s clearly shooting for the same mix of odd couple antics here—Thomas Jane was originally cast in Kang’s role but was canned by producer Joel Silver for not being ethnic enough—and it works for the most part, although it’s a little awkward at times. In his defense, Kang is a worthy sidekick to Sly’s mumbling mauler; quick in retort and more than capable of bringing “some kung fu from the homeland.”
Game Of Thrones‘ Jason Momoa heads up the villainous trio as a ruthless mercenary, Keegan. Easily the best thing on offer, his sheer physical presence and menace should see him getting the call-up for The Expendables 3. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje’s character Morel, a man behind the curtain presence, seems a massive waste. Another mountain of a man, you’re left wondering what the final axe fight might have been as a triple threat match between Rambo, Khal Drogo and Simon Adebisi. As the marvelously monikered Marcus Baptiste, Christian Slater’s performance is a miracle of modern science—a fully formed, walking and talking man forged entirely out of cocaine.
Bullet To The Head is moderately passable fun, yet not nearly as kitsch as it should be. Something of a misfire, it seems we’ll have to wait until The Tomb—a movie in which 50 Cent plays a computer expert, stew on that one for a while—later this year to see if Arnie and Sly can get back to any semblance of their trailblazing past.