Bullet to the Head

bullet to the head

Sylvester Stallone shoots people in the face. That's it for subtext in this formula action swill. Why do I sound like I should expect more. Because the credits list the director as Walter Hill. Yes, the Walter Hill who gave us Hard Times, The Long Riders, The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Southern Comfort, Wild Bill and the pilot episode of the landmark HBO Western series Deadwood. Hill's films, the good and even the godawful, show action laced with subtlety and feeling. No rush. You ease into a Hill movie. I can't detect the hand of Hill in even a single scene in Bullet in the Head. It plays like a Stallone vanity project, impure and stupefyingly simple. Stallone plays James Bonomo, aka Jimmy Bobo, a hitman who – wait for it! – hates cops. But there's Bobo, teaming up with Det. Taylor Kwon (a charisma-free Sung Kang) who wants to – wait for it again! – bring corrupt New Orleans cops to justice. Shots are fired. Stallone throws out a one-liner. Repeat. That's it. Look, it's a kick to see Stallone, 66, unintelligible as ever but persuasively kicking ass. Ditto his buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger, 65, playing sheriff in Last Man Standing. But these guys need better vehicles to carry to them to glory before AARP. As a prelude to Stallone's big fight scene with an indestructible mercenary named Keegan (a scene-stealing Jason Momoa of Game of Thrones), Keegan tries to give the movie a context (read: reason for being). Bobo isn't having it. "Are we gonna fight," he sneers, "or do you plan on boring me to death." Bet you can guess the answer. It's forgivable to watch Stallone sell out. He's like everyone's crazy Uncle Harry trying to relive the good old days. But dragging Walter Hill down with him, that's a fighting offense.