It’s too easy to pick apart a movie like this as a hodge-podge, mix and mash, some-assembly-required action movie. A Frankenstein’s monster of everything you’ve seen already in action movies, rearranged in just enough ways that it can be repackaged and resold to general audiences. That isn’t a crack on Sylvester Stallone by the way. If there’s one think this movie wants to leave you with it’s that “hooooooooly crap, this guy is older than my Dad” feeling you get when you see that he’s sixty seven years old and built like a brick shithouse. Let’s do something a bit more fun instead.
Sylvester Stallone is a brooding hitman, betrayed by his employers for generic evil “I want money” reasons that you won’t care about because no one in this movie is remotely interesting, and you won’t remember anyone’s motivation by the half way point. All you need to know is that Khal Drogo is sent to fight Rocky and Tokyo Drift and despite that promising set up the movie fails to deliver anything remotely interesting. At best it’s mildly titillating to watch Sly trying to act tough guy wise and falling so flat you’d think he got lessons from Wily Coyote. Which leads into the greater problem…
Sylvester Stallone doesn’t know what irony is. Considering how many times he’s partnered with Jason Statham now for The Expendables, this movie should be a bit more over the top like Crank, or Crank 2. Instead everything is played dark and serious, and it sucks all the fun out of everything. In one scene at a Turkish bath house, you know that the scene was set up so Sly could take his shirt off, but then most of the shots are from shoulders up keeping the audience from seeing exactly what he was trying to show off. It may venture more into comedy territory, but if instead greater focus was brought to this point it would have made the scene so much more entertaining for the fact that it embraced the tropes of old 80s actions movies more than just straight lifting them.
Everyone in this movie is an idiot. Completely and utterly. Irredeemably so. What’s there to do? Sometimes you can try lowering your standards. Other times you can pretend you’re watching something a bit smarter than a dog chasing its tail for ninety minutes. In dire circumstances you can make a drinking game out of it (responsibly). A drinking game for this movie might not even be that bad. Drink every time Sly swears, drink every time you see Christian Slater, drink every time a one liner falls flat, drink every time Khal Drogo is sent to do something, and if you want to play on liver failure mode, drink for every action movie cliche that despite becoming ironic ten years ago is played straight here. Halfway through the movie you’ll think you’re watching Citizen Kane. (Seriously though, drink responsibly. Don’t hurt yourself.)
From Rotten Tomatoes
With movies like this, Sylvester Stallone is in the same boat as Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’ve both begun hashing out action movies trying to reinvigorate their brands, with Sly coming out ahead if only for the fact that his Expendables movies make more money than everything else being put out by them. Does that say anything about the 80s machismo style they’re trying to go for in their movies? Maybe the faux irony of the Expendables bringing out as many aging acting stars as they can afford speaks more to the idea that it’s all caricatures playing caricatures, selling actors over action. That’s the problem. When every person’s schtick is that they know how to fire a gun, it becomes exponentially less interesting when that skill is distributed along X-number of people. The Avengers weren’t brought together to all wear Iron Man suits. There’s nothing left to say after that. There’s nothing to even remember. What was I even talking about?
Bullet to the Head premiered on HBO Friday, April 25th. You can check out the trailer below.