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Bullet to the Head (2013)
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/16/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/17/2013
Own Bullet to the Head on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital Download 7/16
In 1982, a then 40-year old Walter Hill directed a movie called 48 Hrs. The Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte action-comedy may not have been the first inter-racial buddy cop movie, but it set a new standard for the genre, as it mixed strong violence and decidedly adult humor. The film still holds up pretty well today. Thirty years later, the now 70-year old Hill has gone back to the well with Bullet to the Head, a movie which takes a 21st Century approach to the inter-racial buddy cop movie. Can Hill make magic again?
As Bullet to the Head opens, assassins Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner, Louis (Jon Seda), enter a hotel room and kill Greely (Holt McCallany). A short time later, Louis is murdered. Jimmy decides that he must discover who is behind this. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives in town looking for the man who was Jimmy's target, as he was an ex-cop. Kwon is able to track Jimmy and the two realize that they have a common goal, as the person who wanted Greely dead must have had a reason to do so. Despite their differing approaches, Jimmy likes to muscle people, while Kwon relies on gathering intel through his phone, the two begin to cut a swath across New Orleans in order to learn the truth.
I will say this for Bullet to the Head, the movie doesn't beat around the bush, as someone gets shot in the head in the first scene. Well, I'll return the favor and not beat around the bust either -- this movie doesn't work for two main reasons. First of all, it's nothing special. This is a very work-a-day action movie which does nothing to elevate itself above its predecessors or its contemporaries. The action scenes are very by-the-numbers, the villains are very cliched, and the dialogue is flat (more on that in a moment). The story, which is based on a comic book, doesn't offer any twists or turns. I can't think of a single reveal in the film which was intriguing in any way. This is one of those films which has an action scene every few minutes, but there's nothing to really pull us into the movie and make us care about what is happening.
The film's other major issue is that it fails miserably as a buddy movie...assuming that it was ever meant to be one. Stallone and Kang have no chemistry whatsoever. The movie is supposed to be about two men from different backgrounds who are forced to work together, but in most movies, they would find some sort of connection or common ground. But, here, they remain apart, even when they are in the same scene together. Stallone is being Stallone and some of his lines border on being funny, but otherwise the two simply threaten one another and there's never any sort of rapport. Compare this to 48 Hrs. where the back and forth between Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte felt organic and yielded many laughs, and you realize how mis-guided this movie was.
With The Expendables films, Sylvester Stallone suddenly had some hits after years of being up and down, so it's not surprising that he would want to do a "solo" project, and I'm sure that, on paper, this looked like a good idea. It could have been 48 Hrs. meets Rush Hour. Instead, it's no different from the dozens of direct-to-video action movie which are released each week, most of which star Cuba Gooding Jr. or Eric Roberts. As someone who loves Demolition Man, I'm not opposed to Stallone action films, but his continuing comeback deserves something better than this.
Bullet to the Head never takes advantage of its New Orleans locations on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The movie isn't overrun with bright colors, but the hues do like fine and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is pretty good, although some shots look soft and the depth is adequate. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. That bitrate is one of the highest that I've seen from a Warner release and we do get a detailed track here. Just listen to the finale and you can pick up individual sounds during the gunfight and explosions. The musical score sounds fine and the stereo effects show good separation.
The Bullet to the Head Blu-ray Disc contains only one extra feature. "Mayhem Inc." (9 minutes) is a featurette which focuses mainly in the film's action. We get some an overview of the plot, but for the most part the piece offers on-set footage of how the action scenes were staged. There are comments from Hill, the cast, and those who worked on the fight scenes.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.