Review: Sylvester Stallone in Bullet to the Head

After the financial failure of the Arnold Schwarzenegger lead The Last Stand, it was intriguing to see how Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head would do. Arnie vs. Sly - It was just like there eighties heyday all over again. Except now it is 2013, and both of their films flopped. Whether or not people saw it, Bullet to the Head was great fun with Sly proving that he's still one of the best action stars in the business.

Directed by action veteran, Walter Hill (Red Heat, Last Man Standing), Bullet to the Head follows hitman, Jimmy Bobo (or Jimmy Bobo Child, as I like to call him) as he seeks vengeance on the men who killed his partner. Bobo reluctantly teams up with cop Taylor Kwon (ably played by Sung Kang) who also has a score to settle.

Alessandro Camon's screenplay is not the most original action script in recent years, but it works. The story of two mismatched heroes hunting down bad guys, each with a score to settle, has been done countless times before. It does however, allow for a variety of strong action set pieces throughout, as well as an interesting dynamic to form between Stallone and Kang. Whilst the pair lack the screen-chemistry of classic action duos like Miami Vice's Crockett & Tubs or Lethal Weapon's Riggs & Murtaugh, it almost works in Bullet's favour as the pair openly dislike each other.

Hill's direction is chock full of nostalgia, with most of the special effects and set-pieces feeling reminiscent of those one would expect in a classic eighties actioner. Shootouts in abandoned factories or Stallone's fist-fights by steaming swimming pools are some of the standout pieces. Hill also succeeds at capturing the magnetic setting of New Orleans - from bustling carnivals to Eyes Wide Shut-esque parties in glossy white Orleansian manors.

Stallone still proves a force to be reckoned with, performing stunts at the age of 66 that would even be a challenge for a man half his age. It's also a refreshing change to see the star lead a standalone, non-franchise film, mostly on his own merit where he's able to remind us of how good of an action star he truly is. Jason Mamoa also proves to be a strong presence as the film's antagonist - delivering both dramatically and through the film's physical challenges. It is also a delight to see Christian Slater hamming it up back on the big screen a playboyman lawyer.

Bullet to the Head is unlikely to go down as Stallone or Hill's finest moment, but it is rip-roaring fun that is likely to leave action fans pleasantly surprised.

Rating: 3.5/5
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