Sylvester Stallone returns to B-Movie badassery with “Bullet to the Head”, a straight forward action flick about a hit man who teams up with a cop in order to track down the clients who double crossed him and killed his partner.
It’s a decent use of your entertainment dollar, especially if you’re a fan of 80s action films, where the lone hero has to shoot his way through a string of underlings in order to get to the big baddie.
Jimmy Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) is a lifelong criminal and professional hit man. Working with another hitter, he completes a job without knowing who hired them. After killing their assigned target, the two hit men have a drink at a bar and discuss business. While Bonomo heads to the bathroom, his partner is stabbed… and Bonomo himself is nearly killed in a fight.
From Washington DC comes detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), who was working a case involving the target of their hit. After visiting all the carnage in the morgue, he reaches out to Bonomo (after connecting him to his dead partner). When the two meet, Kwon assures Bonomo that he’s not interested in arresting him, but rather that he wants to team up to investigate the people who commissioned the job. Bonomo initially refuses, but he notices Kwon being tailed leaving the meeting, and in the process of saving Kwon’s life, the tenuous partnership begins.
The trail leads to a lawyer named Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater), who was part of the team that contracted the hit initially. He’s working with a man named Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), an African expatriate with considerable wealth and influence who’s been purchasing corrupt cops, judges, and politicians. Most importantly though, in the employ of these two men is the man who killed Bonomo’s partner, the aggressive, violent Keegan (Jason Momoa).
As Bonomo and Kwon close in, a showdown with Keegan looms.
The plot is about as straight forward and simplistic as you would ever want… in fact, it’s a stretch at times. A hit man and a cop? Cmon. And what are these bad guys up to? The villains are all ill-defined in terms of motives, back story, credibility, etc. There are any number of instances where, if you step back to question them, simply seem ridiculous. For one thing, apparently you can just kill cops with no repercussions whatsoever in Crescent City. In fact, I just think you can kill anybody you want. The only time I saw a cop approach Stallone’s character he was asking him to team up. But most of all, this is a movie that takes itself relatively seriously. It’s a B Movie no question about it, but it completely steers clear of the camp and comedy of last month’s “The Last Stand”.
Which is ultimately ok. “Bullet to the Head” is a throwback to the action movies of the 80s, where you have a defined hero and villain, a bunch of obstacles that the hero needs to shoot his way through in order to get to him, and not much else. Stallone is the star of the show, with his dead eyed, world-weary killer and watching him do his thing goes a long way towards forgiving the film its other shortcomings. This is a film that knows what it is, and isn’t trying to be much more. Stallone with a new tough guy persona, disposing of a bunch of disposables, until eventually squaring off against his evil counterpart. It’s a tried and true formula, that I enjoyed revisiting.