Spake: ‘Bullet to the Head’ fittingly reflects its title - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Movie Review Spake: ‘Bullet to the Head’ fittingly reflects its title

Grade: C+

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 12:40 pm, Fri Sep 6, 2013.

While most men pushing 70 are spending their twilight years on the golf course, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are still packing heat. Many modern actors have attempted to rein supreme as the definitive action star of this generation, such as Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, and The Rock. Yet, none have come close to headlining a franchise on par with “The Terminator” or “Rambo.” Although Arnold and Sylvester may not be the most phenomenal talents ever to grace the big screen, it’s difficult not to be won over by their charisma and unrelenting bloodlust. Even in an era of so much fresh blood, they’re still easily the kings of action…with exception to maybe Bruce Willis.

Schwarzenegger recently returned to his roots in “The Last Stand,” an enjoyable action picture that nobody saw. Now just a couple weeks later, Stallone lock and loads once again in “Bullet to the Head.” The film has its share of cool moments, amusing one-liners, and, as one would anticipate, lots of headshots. As of matter of fact, this movie just might hold the record for most times somebody takes a bullet to the head, making the title fitting. What it lacks is any characters worth investing in, sense of fun, or inspired plot twists. If you’ve seen one action/buddy movie before, you’ll find nothing fresh here.

In this only occasionally entertaining grindhouse flick, Stallone plays Jimmy Bonomo, a hitman with a code of ethics. He has a distant relationship with his tattoo artist daughter, played by Sarah Shahi, who serves little purpose other than to be the generic distant offspring of our antihero. When Jason Momoa’s Keegan kills Jimmy’s partner, the moral hitman sets out to settle the score. Jimmy grudgingly finds himself teamed up with Sung Kang as a Korean NYPD detective named Kwon. From there it should be pretty obvious who lives, who dies, who gets taken hostage, and who becomes unlikely friends.

Almost thirty years ago Walter Hill made “48 Hrs.,” an action comedy in which a tough as nails cop teams up with a wisecracking crook to catch the bad guys. While that film might have been formulaic, the chemistry between Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy elevated the material to something more. In “Bullet to the Head,” which was also directed by Hill, Stallone and Kang make for a less than dynamic duo. Most of the time the two are half-heartedly going through the motions as they uncomfortably play off of each other. Regardless of a few strong individual moments, they never come together to produce a partnership we really care about.

As for the villains, they’re all stock movie gangsters. Christian Slater does his best Jack Nicholson impression as an increasingly annoying lowlife obsessed with partying and naked women. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gives it his all the crippled big boss, but never comes off as very menacing. The most interesting of the bunch is Momoa as Keegan, who engages in a fairly fun ax fight with Stallone. Momoa is a rising star that certainly has the build of a great action star. Outside of his work on “Game of Thrones” however, he’s yet to find a compelling character to match his barbarian physique.

Although it serves its purpose of mindless escapism, “Bullet to the Head” simply leaves the audience wanting more. It’s all too familiar, too hurried, and too forgettable to recommend beyond a rental. For now you’re probably better off waiting a few weeks until “A Good Day to Die Hard” comes out.

Grade: C+

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com

Reach the reporter at nspake@asu.edu

 

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While most men pushing 70 are spending their twilight years on the golf course, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are still packing heat.

The film has its share of cool moments, amusing one-liners, and, as one would anticipate, lots of head shots. What it lacks is any characters worth investing in, sense of fun, or inspired plot twists.

Stallone plays Jimmy Bonomo, a hit man with a code of ethics. He has a distant relationship with his tattoo artist daughter, played by Sarah Shahi, who serves little purpose other than to be the generic distant offspring of our antihero.

When Jason Momoa’s Keegan kills Jimmy’s partner, the moral hit man sets out to settle the score. Jimmy grudgingly finds himself teamed up with Sung Kang as a Korean NYPD detective named Kwon.

From there it should be pretty obvious who lives, who dies, who gets taken hostage, and who becomes unlikely friends.

In “Bullet to the Head,” Stallone and Kang make for a less than dynamic duo. Most of the time the two are halfheartedly going through the motions as they uncomfortably play off of each other. Regardless of a few strong individual moments, they never come together to produce a partnership we really care about.

As for the villains, they’re all stock movie gangsters. Christian Slater does his best Jack Nicholson impression as an increasingly annoying lowlife obsessed with partying and naked women. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gives it his all as the crippled big boss, but never comes off as very menacing. The most interesting of the bunch is Momoa as Keegan, who engages in a fairly fun ax fight with Stallone.

Although it serves its purpose of mindless escapism, “Bullet to the Head” simply leaves the audience wanting more. It’s all too familiar, too hurried, and too forgettable to recommend beyond a rental. For now you’re probably better off waiting a few weeks until “A Good Day to Die Hard” comes out.

• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

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