Sylvester Stallone shoots stuff and punches stuff and swears in Bullet to the Head, a movie primarily about Sylvester Stallone shooting stuff, punching stuff and swearing.
Stallone is a very “as advertised” kind of guy. His movie is called “bullet to the head,” not “character arcs and witty bon mots,” and he delivers exactly what the title promises.
Jimmy Bonomo (Stallone) is a hitman whose partner is killed by Keegan (Jason Momoa), a man hired by the same people who hired Jimmy. Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) is a police officer whose former partner was the man Jimmy killed. But Kwon doesn’t care so much about Jimmy, he wants the big cheese. So when Kwon, who works in D.C., comes to New Orleans to ID his former partner’s body, he gets Jimmy to agree to team up to hunt for the bad guy in charge.
He’s a hit man who shoots first, insults later and he’s a police officer who does things by the book! New from NBC, it’s Bullet to the Head, a wacky cop-and-criminal buddy sitcom! Christian Slater guest stars! (No, really, Slater, who is clearly taking whatever role he can get, shows up as a lawyer for the big villain.)
OK, so this isn’t a new sitcom from NBC — yet. But the hacky set-up and laugh-track ready banter (which is, to witty repartee, what ketchup on macoroni is to pasta primavera) are so bad sitcom ready that it’s kind of shocking the movie was based on a graphic novel and not a discarded Steven Bochco idea from the 1980s.
You know how you might watch a movie and think “that’s ham-fisted” about, say, the way exposition is worked into narration or dialogue moves forward a plot? (And, yes, Bullet to the Head is ham-fisted about these things.) Well this movie is also ham-fisted in the literal sense that Stallone and Momoa have fists like hams — big ole, the whole-family-is-coming-to-Christmas hams — and a good chunk of the movie is spent watching them wham those suckers into each other or other bad guy henchmen with sound effects that make you think of, well, hams hitting something really hard. The dull wet thud is the soundtrack to this movie and seems to be the model for the dialogue as well. Many of the lines could be replaced with, say, the noise of a side of beef hitting a concrete floor and feel more or less the same. Even when what’s on screen isn’t, strictly speaking, kick-punch action, this movie felt like it was one bit of bludgeoning after the next.
Which is not to say it’s a bad movie. When you want a frequently-indecipherable Stallone saying some one-liner and then whamming one of those big fleshy sledgehammers down on someone — followed by, maybe, some shooting — this movie gives you exactly that. C
Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, some nudity and brief drug use. Directed by Walter Hill with a screenplay by Alessandro Camon, Bullet to the Head is an hour and 31 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros.