BULLET TO THE HEAD (Walter Hill, 2013)
Opens Friday, February 1
Back in the 1970s and ’80s, writer and director Walter Hill displayed a knack for the buddy film along with works steeped in local atmosphere. The former was evident in Hard Times, a gritty bare-knuckle fight drama pairing Charles Bronson and James Coburn, and 48 Hrs., the action comedy that brought together cop Nick Nolte and convict Eddie Murphy, while the latter was exemplified by the highly stylized Streets of Fire and the New York City epic The Warriors. Hill tries to combine the two in his first feature film in a decade, Bullet to the Head, with ultimately disappointing results. Based on the graphic novel Du Plomb Dans la Tête written by Matz and illustrated by Colin Wilson, the action thriller teams a dour Sylvester Stallone as old-fashioned hit man Jimmy Bobo with Sung Kang as young by-the-book DC detective Taylor Kwon. The two men scour the streets of New Orleans as they climb the ladder of a well-connected criminal organization responsible for the brutal murders of their partners, with Bobo leaving behind a trail of dead bodies for which Kwon promises to arrest him once they solve the case. While Bobo’s favorite weapons are guns and violence, Kwon’s is his cell phone, as he regularly calls home base to get valuable information that his companion would rather just beat out of someone. As they continue to uncover a major conspiracy, they meet up with Christian Slater as a dirty lawyer and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Oz’s Adebisi) as a hobbled mastermind, but their most potent enemy is Keegan, a vicious mercenary killer played by Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa. The first half of Bullet to the Head works pretty well as director Hill and screenwriter Alessandro Camon (The Messenger) establish the characters and set the stage for the big showdown, but the second half devolves into a complete mess, the story falling apart with gaping plot holes, nonsensical scenes that go nowhere, and far too much violence for the sake of violence. Bobo’s joking with Kwon grows more and more racist, and the subplot involving Bobo’s daughter, Lisa (The L Word’s Sarah Shahi), is seriously misused. Bullet to the Head could have been a whole lot of stupid fun; instead it just turns out to be a whole lot of stupid.