Thursday, September 3, 2015

A meaty role for Stallone in a too-tight shirt

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About the movie
Bullet to the Head
Genre:
Action, Adventure; Suspense, Thriller
MPAA rating:
R
for strong violence, bloody images, language, some nudity and brief drug use
Running time:
01:31
Release date:
2013
Rating:
Cast:
Jon Seda; Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Holt McCallany; Jason Momoa; Sarah Shahi; Sung Kang; Beau Brasseaux; Weronika Rosati; Christian Slater; Sylvester Stallone
Directed by:
Walter Hill

Boomers will go down as the generation that clung to its stars - action and rock - well past their expiration dates.

Case in point: Bullet to the Head, a pulpy and violent movie starring Sylvester Stallone as a New Orleans hit man.

Sly can still fill a too-tight polo shirt at 66 - in the same way Jack LaLanne did in his later years. But no amount of movie magic can make him pass for a lethal and nimble juggernaut.

In fact, Bullet to the Head would have worked immeasurably better if Stallone had switched places with Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones), who plays a vicious henchman.

Stallone is Jimmy Bobo, a career criminal who reluctantly teams with Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang of Fast & Furious), a young straight-arrow police detective, to hunt down the people responsible for the murder of Jimmy's partner (Jon Seda of Treme).

For director Walter Hill it's a twist on the battling buddies formula he used in his 1982 classic 48 HRS.: two utterly incompatible allies from different sides of the law.

Age aside, it's a meaty role for Stallone, allowing him to deliver a trove of penetrating tough-guy aphorisms (as well as some unfortunate Asian slurs aimed at Kang). With his drowsy diction, Stallone is still our only major actor who can make monosyllabic dialogue sound challenging.

The film bangs along at a steady meatwagon clip. Hill handles the gunplay sequences effectively, the hand-to-hand (and axe-to-axe) clashes not as well, and the automotive anarchy poorly.

Bullet to the Head contains good supporting performances by a number of actors best known for their work on TV: Holt McCallany (Lights Out); Brian Van Holt (Cougar Town); Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko on Lost), and Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal). Maybe this isn't fair, but let's throw Christian Slater (Breaking In) on the pile, too.

Stallone has already signed on for The Expendables 3, a franchise that pokes gentle fun at the idea of '80s action icons still getting in the ring. But the dead-serious Bullet to the Head indicates that we're rapidly approaching an era of big-bang movies with stars on mobility scooters.


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552, dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

Inquirer TV Critic
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