'Bullet to the Head': What the Critics Are Saying
Sylvester Stallone packs a punch in Walter Hill's new action film.
In Walter Hill’s new action film, Sylvester Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a hit man who’s out for revenge after his partner (John Seda) gets murdered. Stallone teams up with another hard-hitting detective, played by Sung Kang (Fast Five), and the two work together to avenge each of their partners’ deaths.
The film is based on a French graphic novel titled Du Plomb Dans La Tete. Action-packed with a sprinkling of one-liners, it features Stallone in a role that requires a lot of fighting -- something we’ve seen from him before in movies like the Expendables series and Rambo.
Bullet to the Head received an approval rating of 55 percent from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 52 percent on Metacritic.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Jordan Mintzer says the film “dishes out 90 minutes of old-school mayhem, accompanied by plenty of comic banter” and “should target decent crowds, especially abroad, though it will play best on the small screen.”
Below, read what Hollywood’s top critics have to say about Bullet to the Head.
“We’re clearly in Expendables territory here, though unlike those rather drawn-out affairs, Hill keeps his movie lean and mean, cutting straight to the punchlines while administering violence in quick and crunching doses. Bobo refers more than once to his old age, but Stallone can still throw himself into a good fight (courtesy of stunt coordinator JJ Perry), though he’s more convincing kicking butt or dropping one-liners than when he’s garbling a voice-over that, at least for the audience at the film's Rome fest premiere, was probably more coherent with Italian subtitles.”
“The movie wastes no time in bringing together the vicious but honorable hit man played by Stallone and the crusading police detective played by "Fast & Furious" co-star Sung Kang, who's a tad dull. Stallone is something other than dull: He's riveting in his way. His hairlike hair and facelike face certainly command attention. The part he's playing is a Stallone-y variation on Nick Nolte's cop in "48 Hrs.," the sort of lug who makes jokes about Confucius even though his wary partner in bad-guy killing, the Kang character, hails from Korea … If it gets this director back into the hard-driving action game, then it will have done its duty.”
“No doubt there will be those who decry this above-average action film for its nearly constant chatter of gunfire and its frequent bursts of red mist, signifying a gunshot striking human flesh. And yet this film, by director Walter Hill, a particularly gritty action veteran, holds your attention without insulting your intelligence -- too badly … The best part of the film is that prickly give-and-take between Stallone and Kang, though Stallone gets all the best lines and has the deadpan to make them land. The plot itself isn't much: There are no twists, no surprises, just a juggernaut of violence in which each side tracks and corners the other, with many corpses with head wounds left in their wake.”
“Directed by the veteran Walter Hill ("48 HRS") and filled with cheesy stop-motion zooms; rapid-cut fight scenes with insanely loud sound effects for every bone-cracking punch; racially insensitive one-liners; window-dressing female characters; and wall-to-wall carnage, this is the kind of brainless action movie Sylvester Stallone would have starred in circa 1985. That it stars a Stallone who's closer to 70 than 60 is just … weird. To its credit, the film does take one overly familiar tableau and has great fun with it, thanks in large part to Christian Slater's performance as a wealthy drunken patsy who quickly realizes the folly of keeping quiet when there's a Stallone with a pair of pliers hovering over you. It's a hilarious scene.”
“In this movie elements like story and dialogue are only pesky details to be dispensed with in between the real deliverables: fistfights, knife fights, gunfights, axe fights and one explosive showdown at the catfish corral that whet the filmmakers’ insatiable appetite for figuring out new ways for people to brutalize one another. Things go bang and things go boom in “Bullet to the Head,” which plays like such a floundering exercise in macho overcompensation that you almost feel sorry for it. Almost. Stallone gets to deliver a few choice one-liners, and a montage of Bobo’s mug shots addresses with refreshing directness how his persona has changed over the years, from Rocky to Rambo and beyond. But the self-awareness of that sequence is completely at odds with Stallone’s posture throughout “Bullet to the Head,” in which he resembles something of a human waxwork, his cosmetically distorted face a Habsburg-lipped burlesque of his once sensuous scowl.”
Bullet to the Head hits theaters on Feb. 1.
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