Blu-Ray Review: Bullet to the Head

This is one of those movies that delivers on exactly what it promises.  This is old-school, gritty and violent filmmaking, complete with car chases, shootouts, double crosses, and every other action movie cliché you can think of.  Embracing the cliches, Stallone plays Jimmy Bonomo, a hit-man with a code of ethics.  As he states early in the film, “no women, no children.”  After his partner his killed, he finds himself in an unthinkable situation; partnered with a cop in a quest for vengeance.  This cop, Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), provides the closest thing the movie has to a realistic person, and is the only character the audience will really be able to latch on to.  It’s a critical role, and played very well.  .

While it may seem as if I am oversimplifying things, that’s really all there is to this movie.  Going from one setpiece to the next, Bonomo and Kwon work their way up through the various levels of this particular crime ring, taking out one person or group at a time until the final battle, which in this case happens to feature dueling axes.  This sequence between Keegan (Jason Momoa) and Bonomo is so hilariously over-the-top, it almost makes the film worth seeing just for the ridiculousness of the whole enterprise.

There is definitely a place for these types of films.  I wouldn’t necessarily call the movie “good,” but it’s entertaining enough if you are in the right state of mind.  Director Walter Hill brings a level of grime to the film which creates an intriguing atmosphere, and he layers the editing with several signature visual flourishes that keep things centered in his unique world.  While the Blu-Ray looks as great as you’d expect, the film itself looks appropriately dirty.  It’s a relatively ugly film, intentionally so.  Still, it’s the right look for this sort of film and works well in context.

As for extras, there is a brief, 10 minute behind-the-scenes segment that demonstrates what went into a lot of the action sequences.  There isn’t a lot of technical insight, but it’s an interesting peek behind-the-curtain.  It’s very obvious that everybody involved knew exactly what movie they were making.  With a film this heavily stylized, it’s important that everybody involved understands and respects what they are setting out to make.  In watching this feature, it’s apparent that they all have an incredible respect for the genre.

This is definitely not a film for everybody.  However, if you like Stallone and generic action films, you’ll probably have a good time.  This is what Netflix and Red Box were made for.  There was no need to have seen it in the theater, and definitely no need to buy the Blu-Ray.  However, as a time waster, you could do far worse, and I mean that in the best possible way.

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