When you set the bar low there’s only so much credit you can get for clearing it. Bullet to the Head clears it fairly comfortably: it’s a fun action/revenge flick that doesn’t aspire to be anything else. The result is neither boring nor inspired at any point, pleasant but disposable. It’s a fairly successful hangover day at the office – you’re never going to blow anyone away, but you’re not sick on anyone either: and you’re happy with that.
Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a no nonsense tough guy hitman who, as we’re repeatedly informed, doesn’t like cops. When his partner is killed, he goes out looking for revenge. Also taking an interest is out of town cop Taylor Kwon whose one time colleague, since disgraced, was the victim of Jimmy and his partner’s last hit. They form an unlikely alliance and you pretty much know the rest. It’s good fun but once everything’s been set up I could pretty much just copy and paste the script in here word for word without feeling the need for any kind of spoiler alert.
The biggest disappointment was probably the actual volume of action. We’re following a protagonist who seems to have rigged all his earthly possessions to explode through a world where it takes at least five shots to kill anyone. I feel like a little more ass could have been kicked. There is a reasonable amount of fight scenes, but when you’re not offering much else surely a bit more indulgence is necessary. There may also have been a bit more dramatic mileage in Bobo and Kwon’s odd couple dynamic, though it did still produce some comedy moments. Why does Jimmy Bobo hate cops so much? We’ll never know. Stallone gives a solid performance but in reality his material offers no more challenge than the plot poses his character.
Bullet to the Head isn’t trying to be a great revenge film that plumbs the depths of the human psyche, questioning what anyone might be capable of given the right situation. Nor does it attempt be an all out action extravaganza, with fake blood, prosthetic limbs and minor characters flying all over the place. It’s not particularly original. You’re unlikely to be surprised at any point. Revenge is not a vehicle for a bigger story or any great character development. I would say that Bullet to the Head doesn’t take any risks, but perhaps in this light the biggest risk of all is not committing to anything; in playing it safe it aspires to mediocrity and succeeds.
EXTRAS Just a nine-minute making-of featurette.