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Bullet to the Head(2012)
After watching their respective partners die, a cop and a hitman form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy.
For more about Bullet to the Head and the Bullet to the Head Blu-ray release, see Bullet to the Head Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 30, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Brian Van Holt, Sung Kang
Director: Walter Hill
» See full cast & crew
Bullet to the Head Blu-ray Review
"I'm gonna get her back. Give 'em what they want. Then they die..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 30, 2013
Revenge may never get old, but revenge actioners sure do. And Sylvester Stallone has all but made a gruff, bullet-riddled career of them. Director Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head is another slice of big, dumb, revenge-driven fun for Stallone, minus enough Big, Dumb or Fun to make it as entertaining as guilty pleasures like The Expendables and its post-genre ilk. It isn't a bad film as bloody escapism goes. Ignoring the rampant clichés, choppy early '90s editing and wooden character bits, the action is at least fittingly fierce and furious. But for a theatrical release, it feels decidedly direct-to-video; the sort grizzled old action stars churn out by the half-dozen to keep gas in the tank and food in the fridge. Stallone isn't exactly hurting for cash these days, though, so what he's doing here is something of a mystery.
When New Orleans hitman Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) and his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda, 12 Monkeys) are unceremoniously burned by their employer after offing a corrupt cop (Holt McCallany, Fight Club), Jimmy teams up with reluctant D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang, Fast & Furious 6) to track down the man who killed Blanchard -- a heavy hitter named Keegan (Jason Momoa, Stargate Atlantis, Game of Thrones) -- and to figure out who set him up. It doesn't take long either. The criminal masterminds are international fugitive Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lost) and his American lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater, True Romance), both of whom land themselves on Jimmy's hit list after making the bone-headed decision to kidnap Bobo's daughter, tattoo artist Lisa Bonomo (Sarah Shahi, Life). Soon it's hitman vs. hitman (with a cop in the mix for a dose of moral fiber) as Jimmy takes his grudge match to Keegan and his cohorts.
Based on the French graphic novel "Du plomb dans la tête" by Alexis Nolent, Bullet to the Head is slow on the draw and clumsy on its feet, drunkenly stumbling from one thankfully sobering action scene to the next. It isn't even much of a revenge thriller. It's a buddy flick in the vein of Hill's 48 Hrs., complete with copious one-liners and partner-on-partner racism... albeit without a cast capable of elevating any of the wince-inducing jokes screenwriter Alessandro Camon crams into his script. More to the point, Stallone is the most agile actor on screen. Let me reiterate that in case you missed it: Stallone is the most agile actor on screen. And not in terms of physicality. His performance. And Bullet to the Head is no Rocky. Kang is terrible. Flat, uncharismatic and unconvincing. Slater joins him, and might just be the single worst thing about the film. Akinnuoye-Agbaje gets lost in the mix. Shahi is quite good but tragically underutilized. And Momoa seems to be starring in a different movie entirely, cheesier than even Bullet deserves. Together, the cast is as tiresome as the screenplay, although it's unclear which is ultimately to blame. (I vote Camon's script. But perhaps Hill should be on the ballot too.)
If there's any consolation to be had it's the shootouts and fights, of which there are plenty. Seeing Stallone and Momoa go toe to toe with a pair of fire axes is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it's a violent, hilariously over-the-top blast, even with Stallone still in the process of dusting off his assassin-with-a-heart-of-gold shtick. Fortunately, Morel and Baptiste have an endless supply of gunmen, nameless thugs and dirty cops on the payroll to give Jimmy (and select others, namely Keegan) a veritable sea of bodies to wade through, and it's in the ocean of blood that's crossed that Bullet to the Head earns its namesake and cool-cat swagger. Yes, the realization that almost every action scene is a carbon copy of a better dust-up in a better actioner is an annoying one, but there's just enough here to help catapult Hill's latest teamup from start to finish. Had Hill found someone as magnetic as Stallone to play Kwon (say... Thomas Jane, who was originally cast in the role), the movie might have reached greater heights. As is, though, Bullet to the Head is watchable but likely to be quickly forgotten, if not disowned altogether.
For a somewhat more positive take on the film, see Brian Orndorf's theatrical review.
Bullet to the Head Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bullet to the Head is a gritty, grimy actioner and its 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is no different. Lloyd Ahern's palette is caked in muddy earthtones, colorless hues and grimy skintones, and black levels are all over the place; sometimes satisfying, sometimes weak, sometimes so deep that unforgiving crush renders shadow delineation moot. Contrast is a bit hit or miss too, but intentionally so, and much of the film looks exactly as it should, for better or worse. Detail surges and relents from scene to scene, occasionally shot to shot. Grain is intact but uneven. Closeups are striking while overall clarity dips and dives. Softness is prevalent. Several scenes suffer from suddenly oversaturated colors (Jimmy and Kwon's visit to Lisa's house for one). And fine textures are sometimes undermined by slight, arguably negligible macroblocking. The question then becomes how close to the source is Warner's encode? For the most part, it's dead on. Still, too many issues crop up, relatively minor though each one may be, and the results are more unremarkable than you might expect from a newer theatrical release.
Bullet to the Head Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Stealth isn't exactly a quality Bullet to the Head's assassins embrace, and Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track adheres to their philosophy. Loud, unruly and undeniably involving, it's lossless action as lossless action should sound. LFE output is never restrained, the rear speakers dive into the fray every chance they get, and pinpoint directionality and enveloping ambience rounds out the aggressive and explosive experience. Moreover, dialogue is clean, clear and well-prioritized throughout (in spite of a few lines that get dragged beneath the ever-erupting chaos) and Steve Mazzaro's score makes itself right at home in what could have otherwise been an overcrowded soundscape. Bullet to the Head may not be pretty, but as sonic killers go, it delivers.
Bullet to the Head Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Bullet to the Head only includes one extra: "Mayhem Inc." (HD, 9 minutes), a much too brief featurette that's more enjoyable than any scene in the film. It also just so happens to be for an action movie that looks way better than the one I just watched, which makes the disappointment sting that much more.
Bullet to the Head Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hill is rusty, Camon's script struggles, Stallone isn't given a lot to work with, and Bullet to the Head looks like it was much more fun to make than it is to watch. Even so, there's enough big, dumb fun here for a decent rainy Friday rental. Just enough, but enough. Warner's Blu-ray release makes for a decent rental too, thanks to a solid video presentation and an explosive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Its barely-there supplemental package is a letdown, though, and the film is largely left to stand on its own. Whether or not that saves it from the bargain bin is entirely up to you.
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Bullet to the Head Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: July 16-23 - July 14, 2013
For the week of July 16th, Warner Bros. is bringing Brian Helgeland's Jackie Robinson biopic 42 to Blu-ray; it's an absorbing (if overly sanitized) look at one of baseball's most iconic figures. Other releases include the Sylvester Stallone actioner Bullet to ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Bullet to the Head - July 13, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment are offering three members a chance to win a copy of director Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head, starring Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christian Slater and Jason Momoa. The action film is ...
• Bullet to the Head Blu-ray - May 29, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of director/co-writer Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head, starring Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christian Slater and Jason Momoa. The action film is based on a French graphic ...
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