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New Release Review - Bullet to the Head

Directed by: Walter Hill
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi

A hitman and a cop team up to solve the murders of their partners.

When hitman Stallone and his partner carry out what they assume to be an everyday hit, unaware that the man they executed was a crooked cop, the victim's partner (Kang) arrives in town to track down his killers. With Stallone's partner murdered by a mercenary (Momoa) in a bar, Kang and Stallone reluctantly team up to find the men responsible for both deaths, employing wildly opposing methods of investigation.
Based on a French comic book, it's fitting that 'Bullet to the Head' be directed by a true auteur like Hill. Directors of his nature sadly don't exist anymore; men whose movies could be enjoyed equally by the film scholar and the Saturday night six-pack guzzler. You can almost imagine Hill initially turning down the job, grunting something along the lines of "I'm too old for this shit", only for the producers to kill his dog and kidnap his daughter, forcing him to direct at gunpoint in chained ankles. Whatever his motivation, he's proved that when it comes to visceral action cinema, there are few better. In a Walter Hill movie, gunshots sound that extra few decibels louder, blood looks slightly more red, and anyone can die at anytime. It's a template he sticks to here, transporting us back to a time before post-modern cynicism and smart-ass genre deconstruction took the fun out of the action movie.
Over the decades, Stallone has been honing his comedic chops but never quite found a fitting role. This is easily the funniest performance he's ever given, playing his character like a cross between John Wayne and a Jewish stand-up. Kang is no great actor but plays the straight man role well enough, basically just there to take insults from Stallone. It's similar to the dynamic of Nolte and Murphy in Hill's '48 Hours', another rare effective blend of comedy and action. There are several nods to 'The Searchers', one of Hill's favorite films, with Stallone even repeating "That'll be the day" at one point. The action icon's age is mocked nicely, the film's eye candy (Shahi) now his daughter rather than a love interest.
Do you like your action movies to consist of two guys bickering in a car between ballistic, bone-crunching set-pieces, eventually climaxing with a girl tied to a chair in a disused power plant while two 'roided up men fight to the death with axes, all in a brisk ninety minutes? If so, this is the film for you. 
7/10
Bullet to the Head (2012) on IMDb 7.1/10




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