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Stallone's holding the guns, but Walter Hill gives Bullet to the Head its firepower

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More of an almost-hit than a real return to form, Bullet to the Head is director Walter Hill's mostly on-target comeback after a 12-year break from directing feature films. This is partly because Hill came to the project months after original helmer Wayne Kramer tried and failed to make it work. But while the film's troubled production does show onscreen, particularly during the first frenetic, over-edited scenes, Hill's brutally direct style still works.

I, Sly: Sylvester Stallone in Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head
  • I, Sly: Sylvester Stallone in Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head

Here, Sylvester Stallone is James Bonomo, a grizzled old hitman with a self-serving code of honor. James's partner inevitably dies, which leads him to break his self-prescribed rule of not working with cops and team up with Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang). This being a film starring Sylvester Stallone, who imagines himself as Clint Eastwood with muscles, some lame race-baiting/ageist jokes are swapped between the two pros as they seek out James's partner's killers.

But aside from the pleasure of seeing Kang and Stallone do light banter and heavy ass-kicking, the best thing about Bullet is its straightforward pulpiness. Hill's approaches to violence and to his characters' motives are refreshingly simple. Since James claims to be a hard man, we see him kill repeatedly and without remorse, making the character a more hard-boiled variant of the lugs-of-principle Stallone usually plays.

Because this is a Walter Hill movie, gratuitously naked women and testosterone-fueled tough guys are the order of the day, nothing more and nothing less. The film's action scenes are mostly dynamic, and the film's talented cast is largely well-served, from Jason Momoa, who does a fine job as the film's main heavy, to star Stallone, who simultaneously sticks to and goes against his usual onscreen schtick.

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