In a recent interview with David Letterman, Sylvester Stallone was asked about this film, to which he jokingly replied, “it’s vague” and provided some possible alternate titles, such as “Sly and the Big Hawaiian, ““Revenge of Dr. Chocolate” and “The Creature that ate the Monster.”
While certainly good for a laugh, this still demonstrates a good point about the film. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a movie where the title can be this blunt and still give a decent understanding about the film as a whole.
Yes, this is a movie where Sylvester Stallone shoots people in the face, and that’s exactly what it wants to be.
The thing is, the movie actually has something of a story to it that goes along with the action as well, with Stallone getting set up by the guys who hired his services as a hit man and getting his partner killed.
He somehow ends up joining forces with a detective who’s following the paper trail left behind by Stallone’s last target, which leads the them both to the same criminal organization and sort-of forces them to tolerate each-other’s cooperation for a while.
The weird thing about the plot is that most of the movie is played completely straight, but there are still one or two bits of Rush Hour-like banter between Stallone and the detective, which help set the tone a little lighter.
A big portion of the movie centers around the conflict between Stallone and the detective, as it’s clear that they’ll be able to follow the trail, but it’s unclear whose methods will best get them there.
On one hand, the detective wants to do it all by the book and arrest these people that they have all but confirmed have most of the town’s cops paid-off, and on the other hand, Stallone just wants to beat the answers out of people and shoot them in the face when he’s done, which to be entirely honest is far-and-away more effective within the context of the film.
As far as the antagonist goes, there is a kingpin type that has a series of underlings to keep him in business, but he really only calls some of the shots, whereas the real face of the film’s antagonist is Jason Mamoa as a mercenary of sorts hired to do the kingpin’s dirty work.
Considering that he’s built like the average industrial sized refrigerator, Mamoa fills the position pretty well, complemented by minimalistic dialogue to add an edge of mystery to his character beyond simply being a big muscle-head that knows how to shoot things.
While Stallone is getting pretty old, and even joked in the Letterman interview: “You take away the monkey glue and the wire, I just come apart,” he still handles himself pretty well in his role.
If they did use a stunt double for him, they did a good job at hiding it, and there are plenty of stunts that are clearly Stallone, an impressive feat for a 66-year-old man who has injured himself at least twice in his last three films.
There’s even an entirely coincidental photo of him in the hospital going in for shoulder surgery just as Arnold Schwarzennegger was coming out of shoulder surgery, and both men have already had action movies that released this year.
When David Letterman asked Stallone why he keeps doing action movies, he responded with: “it’s really hard to get a job playing patty-cakes,” followed shortly by “I have this complex where I just want to end up broken in pieces like a twisted slinky.”
It would seem that he impresses even himself, though, as later in the show Letterman roles a clip from the film’s trailer-famous axe fight between Stallone and Mamoa, after which Stallone had a look of genuine surprise on his face and simply said “woah.”
Box office-wise, Bullet to the Head isn’t really doing well, not at all helped by the fact that a large portion of its target audience is too busy preparing for the Super Bowl to go to the movies.
As a result, the film has bombed in its first weekend, taking in an estimated $4.5 million, a pretty low number considering the film’s $41 million budget.
Bullet to the Head isn’t the most complex film you’ll ever see, and it most certainly isn’t going to change anything about the way that films are made or watched, but it does what it wants to do, even if it doesn’t do anything else.
By Casey Storton
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