About the Post

Author Information

Robert Cartagena is a boxing correspondent for SFBay.ca. He graduated from SF State in 2011 with a B.A. in journalism and spent more than a year contributing monthly articles to The Hudsucker, an online magazine with a blog twist. He has a passion for sports journalism -- particularly boxing -- as well as film reviews. He also enjoys blogging and aspires to be a professional actor one day.

Stallone still packs a mean punch in ‘Bullet to the Head’

As Sylvester Stallone nears 70, you would expect him to hang up his acting gloves soon. But the 66-year-old action icon, best known for his roles as Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, continues making films – and not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In his last four films (excluding his voiceover work in the Kevin James comedy Zookeeper), Stallone has delivered some knockout performances; his most recent was as Expendables team leader Barney Ross in his hit films The Expendables and The Expendables 2. He has even gone toe-to-toe with the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and fellow action icon Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Even at such an old age, Stallone can still pack a punch.

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The same can be said about his performance in the gritty – and sometimes, dark – action film, Bullet to the Head. As was the case in the aforementioned films, Stallone continues to pack a wallop – all while serving up plenty of (as the title insists) bullets to the head.

Based on the French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete (which translates to “Bullet to the Head”) and adapted to the big screen by Alessandro Camon, Bullet to the Head is your typical revenge film. Stallone plays stone cold hitman Jimmy Bobo, who is out to avenge the brutal murder of his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda). It’s pretty safe to say that for the remainder of the film, Bobo will hit the streets of New Orleans and, as he says, “Bang. Down. Owned.” Translation: He’s going to kill everyone responsible for Blanchard’s death.

Right about here is where I would delve into how explosive this latest action film is. Bullet to the Head does have some good action scenes, but they’re not the true highlight of the film. Instead, that honor goes to the one performance that straight up steals the show: Stallone’s.

He may be credited as the film’s main protagonist, but Jimmy Bobo is a total antihero. He insists on handling business his way: By any means necessary. That take no prisoners mentality makes him very entertaining to watch on screen. Stallone has previously delivered gritty performances as the tortured soul who has seen it all in his line of duty – and his role as Bobo is no different. In fact, his character may be one of the darkest he’s played throughout his career. You may not expect Bobo to have even the slightest ounce of humanity inside him because of his merciless reputation – let alone, care about anybody else but himself. But he does show his human side when it comes to probably the most important person in his life: his daughter, Lisa (the lovely and fierce Sarah Shahi of Fairly Legal fame). Their relationship can easily be described as tough love because even though Bobo cares about her, he refuses to show any sign of affection – let alone, weakness. Even during his scenes with Shahi, Stallone cleverly maintains his intense demeanor.

The film also pays homage to classic 80s buddy films by pairing Stallone with Sung Kang, who plays Washington, D.C., detective Taylor Kwon. Kwon has arrived in New Orleans to investigate the murder of a corrupt policeman. His investigation leads him to Bobo and after discovering they may have a common enemy, the two (reluctantly) join forces. Though Kang has previously appeared in several high profile films (including his role as Han in the Fast and Furious films), he seems miscast as Kwon. He and Stallone do have some good chemistry, but they’re not as likeable an odd couple as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy were in 48 Hrs. or Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. While he manages to hold his ground alongside Stallone, Kang is constantly one-upped by his veteran co-star in terms of character. Even during some of their exchanges, Stallone punctuates them with witty humor and one-liners – not to mention, ethnic jokes at Kang’s expense.

While Bullet to the Head is a good action film for what it’s worth, it’s not as memorable as the classic buddy films that came before it. It does include quite a few twists – particularly double crosses – that may make it difficult for viewers to keep up. The main antagonist is pretty generic as well and definitely seems out of place for this type of action film. (His diabolical plan involves demolishing low-income housing in order to build condominiums!) But Jason Momoa deserves recognition as the film’s true villain thanks to his in-your-face performance as the hulking hitman Keegan.

Image Credit: Frank Masi/Dark Castle Holdings, LLC.

Bullet to the Head won’t be the last we see of Stallone this year; he has three more films scheduled for release, including the thriller The Tomb, which reunites him with his Expendables co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone may be in his late 60s, but if his performance as Jimmy Bobo indicates anything, it’s that you shouldn’t count an old war horse out – especially an Italian Stallion!

Bullet to the Head is rated R for strong violence, bloody images, language, some nudity and brief drug use. Running time: 91 minutes.

Overall: B- (Bonus points for Stallone’s stone cold performance)

Tags: , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave A Reply [Invalid Emails Will Be Marked As Spam]

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: