Susan Granger’s review of “A Bullet to the Head” (Warner Bros.)
Last week, it was Jason Statham in “Parker.” Before that, Arnold Schwazenegger’s “The Last Stand.” Now it’s Sylvester Stallone’s turn, as the aging action stars of “The Expendables” try solo turns again.
Stallone plays James Bonomo, a.k.a. Jimmy Bobo, a gritty, grizzled, heavily tattooed New Orleans hitman with a long rap sheet and little tolerance for the law. When he and his partner Louis (Jon Seda) go after Greely (Holt McCallany), a corrupt ex-cop, Louis is brutally murdered by hulky Keegan (Jason Momoa , familiar as “Conan the Barbarian” and Khal Drogo on TV’s “Game of Thrones”). Propelled by vengeance, Luddite Bobo teams up with young, techno-savvy, Washington D.C.-based Det. Taylor Kwon (Korea’s Sung Kang from “Fast Five”), who’s investigating the murder of his former partner – that corrupt ex-cop. When Kwon gets wounded, Bobo brings him to his
daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi), a tattoo artist/med-student, who later gets taken
as a hostage. After a bit of brutish bantering, bullying and Mardi Gras revelry, Bobo and Kwon go after Keegan and sleazy lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater) who work for real estate developer Rob Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). After detours to the bayou and a Turkish bathhouse, there’s a climactic hand-to-hand axe-fight at an abandoned power station.
Based on Alexis Nolent’s French graphic novel “Du Plomb Dans La Tete” (translated as “Headshot”), the cliché’-riddled script is credited to Alessandro Camon (“The Messenger”) and director Walter Hill, a venerable veteran whose macho credits include “The Long Riders,” “The Warriors” and “48 Hours.” As a bit of trivia, Hill used the same abandoned power station in New Orleans back in 1975 as a location site for his first feature, “Hard Times,” starring Charles Bronson. And if plastic surgery-enhanced Stallone seems even stiffer than usual, he’s obviously still sufferingfrom a neck fracture from a stunt on “The Expendables.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Bullet to the Head” is a derivative, only occasionally funny 5. It’s already on the fast-track to the DVD shelf.