Bullet to the Head

Bullet to the Head

2013, R, 91 min. Directed by Walter Hill. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Sarah Shahi, Christian Slater, Sung Kang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jon Seda.

REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Feb. 1, 2013

It’s been a very long time since a film carried by Sylvester Stallone alone was an actual domestic blockbuster. I only bring this up because Stallone’s career is so intriguing. Although he’s appeared in over 60 films, Stallone’s most successful works have been entries in one of the three franchises he created: Rocky, Rambo, and The Expendables. Commercially, at least, Stallone is no longer the box-office superstar he once was considered.

This is interesting because Bullet to the Head is a classic Stallone genre picture. Recently, in a review of The Last Stand, I described how Arnold Schwarzenegger has allowed his stereotypical character to age – and to do so without vanity. Nothing like that happens here. Bullet to the Head is pure, primal Stallone – in control, at peak form, and bedecked with gleaming muscles. Not only is the film chock full of Stallone in action, it also has him offering up an unending series of one-liners.

Hit man James Bonomo (Stallone) is hired to take out a corrupt ex-cop. Working with his partner Louis (Seda), Bonomo executes the target, and they celebrate their success afterward in a bar. There, ex-mercenary Keegan (Momoa) kills Louis. While seeking vengeance, Bonomo hooks up with Detective Taylor Kwon (Kang), who is interested in the link between both killings. Meanwhile, corrupt cops who are after Kwon end up wounding him, so Bonomo takes Kwon to a former med student and tattoo artist (Shahi), who just happens to be Bonomo’s daughter. With great hesitation on both sides, Bonomo and Kwon team up to solve the case. What follows is a pulpy action film of double-crosses, ambushes, detective work, and villains – all set to a constant chorus of shooting, explosions, and physical combat.

The film is a hoot and goes by quickly, but there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before. Walter Hill was once regarded as one of the industry’s great, young cinematic talents, having directed Hard Times, The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs. and Streets of Fire (1975-1984) right out of the gate. (The Driver and Streets of Fire are particularly underappreciated.) There are other great titles throughout his career, but a number of notable misses as well. In 2004, he helmed the premiere episode of Deadwood and both parts of Broken Trail, which seemed a return to form. This film also hits the target, but it’s a big, obvious one, a soap-opera-predictable cavalcade of violence.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Walter Hill
AFF Brings Walter Hill for <i>The Warriors</i> and Then Some
AFF Brings Walter Hill for The Warriors and Then Some
Writer/director comes out to play

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 20, 2017

More Walter Hill Films
The Warriors
Walter Hill's visually riveting tale about gangland warfare in New York City unfolds like a violent, comic-book Western. Gang colors, desolate streets and subway platforms, ...

Marjorie Baumgarten, Jan. 31, 2002

Streets of Fire
This is a kickass Walter Hill action movie in which a rock & roll frontwoman (young Diane Lane) is kidnapped by bikers (led by Willem Dafoe) and then rescued by her shirtless ex (Michael Paré).

March 7, 2021

More by Louis Black
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

July 14, 2017


Bullet to the Head, Walter Hill, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Sarah Shahi, Christian Slater, Sung Kang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jon Seda

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle