Hollywood Product: Bullet to the head
Stallone shows he’s still got it - even in a predictable film
GENRE: Crime noir action
THE PITCH: Gun for hire Johnny Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) seeks revenge when his partner is murdered. Hot on the killer’s trail, he reluctantly partners with Taylor Kwan (Sung Kang), a naïve, fish-out-of-water cop trying to take down the same people - hitman Keegan (Jason Momoa) and his employer Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Based of the French graphic novel Du plomb dans la tete.
MONEY SHOT: Bonomo gets another chance to take down Morel, the person responsible for his partner’s death. I can’t elaborate any further, it’s too much of a spoiler.
SOURCE MATERIAL: Du plomb dans la tete or “Headshot” was originally published in 2008 and created by French comic writer Alexis Nolent and illustrated by Colin Wilson. The six-part crime noir was adapted in the U.S. by Dynamite Entertainment in 2010. The title was modified from its literal translation: “Lead to the head”.
BEST LINE: Kwan’s visit to the Crescent City (That’s New Orleans, y’all) is definitely unwanted. Almost every interaction with members or the NOPD and Bonomo has a racial barb. Leaving a crime scene, Kwan explains his frustration with the local police force. After making a point, Lieutenant Lebreton (Dane Rhodes) clearly irked says, “Don’t Condescend to me Kato!” Kwan threatens Bonomo to which he replies, “I’ll be waiting Confucius, I’ll be waiting... ”
HUSH HUSH SWEET HARLOT: Bonomo sneaks up on a snitch in a bathhouse getting a massage. Before addressing the guy, he points and tells the masseuse, “Go over there and keep your mouth shut forever ... forever.”
TAKING A BULLEIT: Bonomo only drinks one type of bourbon: Bulleit. He loves the stuff so much, if a bar doesn’t carry it, he brings his own and rents a glass. Bulleit, like all bourbons is distilled in Kentucky and created by Augustus Bulleit around 1830. Its described by whiskey enthusiasts as being “Neat with a spicy nose.”
FLESH TONES: There’s two shower scenes in the film both providing nice female, uh... profiles. At the masquerade party held at the home of prominent New Orleans lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater), topless girls attend to the guest. At a bathhouse, Stallone throws down with Ronnie Earl (Brian Van Holt) in their skivvies.
BODY COUNT: Considering this entire film revolves around the two deaths, the number of people gunned down is staggering. Before the halfway mark, I counted 16, by film’s end the number increases exponentially.
(BULLET TO THE) HEAD COUNT: Of course I had to count how many people actually got de plomb dans la tete’d. There were a total of 18 executions in that fashion.
BOTTOM LINE: I guess it must be a renaissance of old school action film stars with Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis all releasing action films this year. The trio tested the waters with the Expendables series and splintered to helm their own projects. Schwarzenegger lead the group with the dismal and gaunt vehicle, The Last Stand, but Stallone picked a film that leans towards his strengths in Bullet. From the onset you’re practically thrown back in time to the late ’80s when big-budget action films were in vogue. The film is so formulaic Walter Hill who directed this and several action films decades ago staged the aging anti-hero Bonomo perfectly within this linear pulp story. Cotton-mouthed Stallone whose never been known to monologue keeps the chatter down to snarky one-liners and devotes the bulk of his energy into his signature curled-lip sneer and “Look I still got it” pugilistic sequences.
Fans of the original graphic novel and its U.S. counterpart will appreciate seeing this on the big screen but will probably be disappointed in how the tragic Bonomo is portrayed. Bullet to the head is of the right caliber for those who never knew this spawned from a comic book and enjoy a mindless, derivative action film that puts more emphasis on the action than substance.