Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jon Seda, Holt McCallany
Written by: Alessandro Camon, based on a graphic novel by Alexis Nolent
Directed by: Walter Hill
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, bloody images, language, some nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 91
Date: 11/14/2012

Bullet to the Head (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Head' On

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Now in his 70s, director Walter Hill is a living treasure for fans of old-fashioned, crackerjack tough-guy action cinema. Grinding out stories about cops and criminals, boxers and cowboys, Hill has attracted an impressive array of action stars, but -- until now -- never Sylvester Stallone.

Yet this belated meeting of kindred spirits in Bullet to the Head isn't exactly joyous. Playing double-crossed New Orleans hitman James Bonomo, Stallone is like tattooed Teflon, jaded and ruthless, and Hill's filmmaking matches that mood. Sung Kang co-stars as Hill's typical out-of-towner, a Korean-American cop who joins forces with Sly to catch a rogue's gallery filled with colorful baddies.

Based on a French graphic novel, the screenplay falls back on exposition, annoying cross-cultural byplay, and some spongy old chestnuts. It's not exactly fresh material, but like an old warrior, it's sturdy and diamond-hard in the thick of battle. Just like they used to make 'em.

Warner Home Video released the Blu-ray edition, which looks as good as it possibly can for such a grungy movie. I was hoping for a Walter Hill commentary track, but the only extra is a 9-minute studio-produced behind-the-scenes featurette, which does, happily, include a few moments with Hill.

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