Stallone’s "Bullet to the Head" brings back the 80s

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This is our first film review published on the day of the film’s release.  Warner Brothers films has graciously allowed members of The Classic to attend press screenings for their films, allowing us to publish reviews as a normal critic would.  We plan for more to follow!

You get a sense of nostalgia seeing old action veteran Sylvester Stallone trample half of New Orleans in his own vigilante style. In a very 80s themed action flick, director Walter Hill brings back the best from the decade with his newest film, Bullet to the Head. Combining bar room brawls, crude humor, and plenty of shootouts, Hill’s work has me on an action movie adrenaline rush.

In a knowingly cliché odd couple buddy film, hit man Jimmy Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) reluctantly partners up with straight by the books Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) to take down two murderers. With the greedy politician Baptiste (Christian Slater) and the muscle bound maniac Keegan (Jason Momoa) making up the antagonists, the stage is set for a bloody, bullet filled adventure.

The obvious strength of the film is the vivid actions scenes and superb acting, and 66-year-old Stallone provides for both. It’s an explosively violent type of movie, with gunshots, bombs, and cars taking out baddies left and right. Stallone brings back that sense of the old detached action hero, saying his hellos and goodbyes with bullets.

For being a senior citizen, Stallone has a smart mouth and a heavy swing. When he and Momoa exchanged their testosterone-filled blows, the whole theater could feel the impacts.  Kang plays an excellent supporting role, struggling to keep the burly old timer in the good graces of the law. He suffers a lot of abuse throughout the movie, mostly from Stallone, but finally gets a little bit of payoff towards the end. Kang’s character is more technical, both in his dialogue and his fighting, and a perfect mismatch for Stallone. It’s obvious through their interrogation methods. Kang wants to play psychologist while Stallone starts wailing on the poor guy.

As great of an action movie it is, Bullet to the Head does carry a couple of flaws. While Stallone and Kang herald some real acting, the rest of the characters don’t deliver as well. Even Momoa playing the psychotic villain is a bit bland. The camera pans very wildly during fights, enough to see the important blows but too fast to see the technique and skill. The plot is confusing from the get go, and only barely ties together at the end of the film.

Despite this, Bullet to the Head turns out to be a great action film. It’s a sort of 80’s memorabilia stunt, combined with old rock music and a hard-boiled protagonist. Stallone reminds us how he made a name for himself in the first place. This isn’t a movie to watch for the drama, mystery and romance, but definitely one to watch for the ridiculously violent action and raw humor. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush inducing film, Bullet to the Head is more than satisfying, and will leave you raiding old stores for VHS style action films.

Rated R.  Unless you’re a senior, you must be accompanied by someone 21 or older to see the film!