The aptly titled Bullet to the Head is about a string of bad guys getting their brains blown out with a little bit of story, some nudity, and several fight scenes and explosions thrown in as glue. Actionwise, it’s funny, surprising, satisfying, and generally awesome. People are all the time getting killed (deservedly) in random, unexpected ways and all of the blood spatter going on would leave even Dexter scratching his head. However, the movie is light on story, character development, humor, and heart, making the whole mess feel a bit impersonal.
Sylvester Stallone stars as James Bonomo, a badass with a checkered past whose criminal history keeps him working off the grid as a paid assassin. Rest assured he never takes out anyone who’d be missed, but his line of work is less than mainstream. When his partner is killed by a ring of especially unsavory characters, he teams up with a cop, Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), who shares the same interest in taking these bastards down. Their unlikely partnership makes for some decent good cop/bad cop buddy movie fare, and a sweet age-appropriate romance slowly blooms between Taylor and Bonoma’s tattoo artist daughter, Lisa (Sarah Shahi). It’s nice to see Stallone step willingly into the role of father-figure instead of love interest, even as he pushes his believability as an action star to the limit.
Though now in his late sixties, Stallone remains reasonably credible as a rough and tumble tough guy. Still impressively muscled and mumbly as ever, there’s a certain comfort in seeing this screen icon doing what he does best. He looks hilariously tiny while sparring with the hulkish villain played by Jason Momoa, yet you root for him just as you did when he was Rocky going up against a towering Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Besides, he’s not solely dependent on sheer physical strength anymore. He gets thrown around a lot, but the point here is to deliver a (wait for it!) bullet to the head. That’s something a proper action guy can pull off at any age.
Though the movie is entertaining, it falls slightly short of being amazing. If the action were a bit more cartoonish and the humor a little more overt, Bullet to the Head would be a rollicking good time. As it is, it’s just a bit too dark and plodding for its own good.