When it comes to the new film Bullet to the Head, as long as you know that you are sitting down to enjoy the latest Walter Hill film starring an aging Sylvester Stallone, as hit man James Bonomo, then you should be well prepared for everything that follows.
Walter Hill is probably best known for writing and directing 48 Hrs. and The Warriors. Thoughtful B movie fare is his realm and most often he employs simple plots, which put a man or group on a mission, and create unlikely or even antagonistic partnerships.
Bullet to the Head has Bonomo chasing down a hit man after he and his partner, Louis (Jon Seda), were double-crossed. D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) is chasing Bonomo. The two join forces to avenge Louis’ death and to find out who is behind the treachery and double-dealing.
As with 48 Hrs., The Warriors, Trespass, or even Brewster’s Millions, the story in Bullet to the Head is structured as a classical adventure tale, in which a hero must overcome a series of challenges to reach their goal.
When Hill has Bonomo moving slowly through a series of bad guys and hit men, like Hercules through his trials, Bullet to the Head is a fun, if not heady, film that can satisfy a craving for a rough and tumble action that is smarter than it seems. When the film meanders is when Hill gets away from his comfort zone.
There is a political subplot that involves an international crime boss, and faux filter effects used for a visual transition. Both of these things feel tossed in to update the film and make it more contemporary, when all we want are self-referential, tongue-in-cheek axe fights.
Luckily there is plenty of interesting action sequences, quick plotting and the film never takes itself more seriously than it should. If you want to see Walter Hill at his best, go and watch The Warriors, but if you want to know what he has been up to recently then check out Bullet to the Head.