Directed by Walter Hill. Starring Sylvester Stallone and Sung Kang. Rated 14A
Although based on a 21st-century French comic book, Bullet to the Head is a throwback in more ways than one. Its director (Walter Hill), its star (Sylvester Stallone), and even its genre (the oddball buddy movie) are all strongly associated with the 1980s.
Other backward-looking elements include the periodic insertion of bare-breasted beauties to superficially heterosexualize the wisecracking male camaraderie, and an attitude toward gunplay that owes more to the O.K. Corral than it does to Al Capone (Hill has admitted that, in one way or another, all his movies are westerns).
The two protagonists of Bullet to the Head are Jimmy Bonomo (Stallone), a Louisiana hit man, and Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), a Washington, D.C., police detective. Bonomo is a career criminal who wants revenge after his partner (Jon Seda) is fatally knifed by a hulking mercenary (Jason Momoa), and Kwon wants to discover who hired Jimmy to whack a dirty cop.
Needless to say, their partnership is not an easy one, even if it soon turns out to be a necessary one. Together, they travel to a series of seedy watering holes, antebellum mansions, and abandoned warehouses in pursuit of crooked realtors, on-the-pad policemen, and villains so large they make Stallone seem tiny.
Because the music is enjoyable (one of the zydeco bands could set a skeleton’s toes tapping) and the action is nonstop (31 corpses by my count), Bullet to the Head is easy enough to sit through except for one thing: its star. Always an acquired taste, Sly’s minimalist style has not improved with age.