The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Bullet to the Head
Own Bullet to the Head on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital Download 7/16

Back in the '80s, a new Sylvester Stallone action picture was an event. I still remember seeing Cobra on opening night and thrilling to Sly's utter badass-ness. Movies of this sort died off as the '90s wore on, but lately, there seems to be something of a renaissance. Bruce Willis is making more Die Hard sequels, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back to acting after taking some years off to run California, and the two Expendables flicks wear their retro ambitions on their sleeves. That brings us to Bullet to the Head, a Stallone vehicle that clearly tries to recapture the macho intensity of his heyday. Unfortunately, it fails miserably.

Sly is actually pretty good. He plays New Orleans contract killer Jimmy Bobo. During a hit on a corrupt cop, Bobo's partner is killed by another assassin, Keegan (Jason Momoa). He, of course, vows to get revenge. Meanwhile, a Washington, D.C. detective named Taylor Kwan (played by Sung Kang from the Fast & Furious series) arrives in town to investigate the cop's murder. Believing correctly that there may be a bigger fish to fry in all of this, Kwan tentatively reaches out to Bobo, suggesting that they combine resources to track down whoever hired Keegan. This brings the usual tension; their styles clash, and there's always the question of whether one will turn on the other.

I'm going to stop right there because, frankly, the plot of Bullet to the Head is a complete mess. The bad guys are so sketchily drawn that it's difficult to remember who's who, or what their motivations are. Director Walter Hill (48 Hrs.) can't bring the necessary focus to Allesandro Camon's sloppy screenplay. (In fairness, Stallone has a reputation for rewriting movies he works on, so he may shoulder some of the blame here.) Due to the lack of a coherent story, the film relies on frequent, overlong scenes of exposition, in which someone tries to explain to someone else what's happening. This is fatal in a movie that's supposed to be a high-octane thrill ride.

Of course, lousy storytelling can be compensated for when the action scenes are great. That is not the case with Bullet to the Head. They're fairly standard and largely uninteresting. Often, you can tell that Stallone's stunt double is doing the real work. Hill uses the now-laborious shaky-cam effect for much of the action, making it difficult to tell what's happening at times.

Stallone is certainly game to play a tough-as-nails character (he looks more engaged here than he has in years) and Christian Slater has fun chewing the scenery as a shady lawyer. Beyond that, there's not much to recommend. I really wanted to love Bullet to the Head, but it's vastly inferior to the vintage Stallone pictures it so clearly wants to emulate.

( 1/2 out of four)

Blu-Ray Features:

Bullet to the Head will be released in Blu-Ray combo pack and for digital download on July 16. Aside from an UltraViolet copy of the film, the only bonus feature is Bullet to the Head: Mayhem, Inc. This roughly ten-minute behind-the-scenes segment offers thoughts from Stallone and Hill, among others. It's pretty thin, not really providing much insight into the film itself beyond general promotion.

Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are very good.

Bullet to the Head is rated R for strong violence, bloody images, language, some nudity and brief drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 32 minutes.

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