Rental Pick: Sylvester Stallone in Walter Hill’s ‘Bullet to the Head’



Sly Stallone is reliving his glory days as an action hero here in the 21st century, as many of you know, Stallone was the king of box office back in the 80s. Many of his films, mostly Rocky and Rambo series earned hundreds of millions at the box office. After strings of box office failures in the 90s and early 2000s, he was able to climb back and churned a few box office hits in the last couple of years. In this movie he decided to team up with director, Walter Hill, whose career as an action director pretty much ended years ago. Unfortunately the film barely made a dent at the box office when it opened last winter, so Hill’s career is still stuck in limbo.

The film starts with an aging hit man James Bonomo (Stallone) and his young partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) assassinates a witness in a high profile case. After the job was done, both men were waiting for their contact at a bar somewhere in New Orleans to received their fees. Unfortunately their employers sent out another hit man, Keegan (Jason Momoa), to take them out. Bonomo survived the hit but his partner was not so fortunate. Feeling betrayed and upset that his partner was killed, Bonomo wowed to find his employers and get revenge.


Later a Washington D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), showed up at local police station and wants to take charge in the investigation of who put out a hit on the witness. He did some digging and was able to meet up with Bonomo. As it turned out the witness whom Bonomo took out was an ex-cop and Kwon’s former partner, he’s about to testify against some highly important people and Kwon wants to bring those people down. He asked Bonomo to help him but Bonomo was not interested. A few minutes later, Kwon was being chased by some hit men and was shot in the shoulder. Bonomo was able to come to his rescue and they both found out that the hit men were local cops. At this point Kwon realized he’s alone and no one will help him with the investigation and Bonomo still wants revenge so both of them decided to team up and find out who’s really behind this whole charade.

The rest of the film becomes the usual interracial buddy cop action/thriller that were quite popular in the 80s and 90s. We get the usual insults between the lead characters and of course shootouts and big fight scenes. The film sort of reminded me of 48 Hrs. which was also directed by Walter Hill. Having been out of the directing action pictures for a long time, I didn’t expect much from him. To my surprise, he actually did a pretty decent job with this film. The pacing of the movie is pretty smooth and he staged some really excellent fight scenes and shootouts. My only complaint is the film looked pretty dreadful, I don’t know what Hill and his cinematographer were trying to accomplish here. For a film that cost $55mil to produce, it looked like a straight to video action movies of the early 90s. Also, I have a hard time believing the film cost that much to make since it didn’t have any big car chases or huge shootouts that would require lots of visual effects. I don’t think Stallone is getting his usual fee of $20mil per picture anymore, so I don’t know where all those millions went, obviously it didn’t show it on the screen. Another big complaint, CGI blood, I hate it! I wish action directors would go back and use squibs again.


As far as performance goes, I thought Stallone was pretty great in it. He plays the role perfectly, he’s not a good guy, just someone who’s doing this kind of work because he doesn’t know how to do any other kind. And for a man who’s in his late 60s, he still look great doing the action stuff. Sung Kang is not a strong actor and I’m glad they didn’t try to make him the lead, I’m pretty sure most people will only know him from the Fast & Furious franchise. The beautiful Sarah Shahi shows up as Bonomo’s daughter and she doesn’t really have much to do other than serves as the eye candy and of course, the damsel in distress. Jason Momoa is pretty much the usual one dimensional villain and even Christian Slater has a small role as one of the villains.

Despite it being a box office disappointment, I thought the film was quite entertaining that reminds me of buddy cop action flicks of the 80s. If you’re a fan of Stallone or Hill, you might enjoy it as well. Just keep your expectations low and don’t expect anything new from it, the film knows it’s an action picture and it didn’t try to be more than that.

3 out of 5 reels


What do you think of this one folks? Do you think Sly still got it?

25 thoughts on “Rental Pick: Sylvester Stallone in Walter Hill’s ‘Bullet to the Head’

  1. I’m with you on this, Ruth. It’s not vintage Walter Hill, but he’ll aways have something entertaining going on, but you won’t be looking at your timepiece to see how long it has left. Fun stuff.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. The trailer didn’t do much for me and then the bad reviews sort of turned me off, which is why I skipped it in theater.

  2. Nice review Ted. This was one I just couldn’t get excited about at the theaters. But now that’s on DVD I’ll probably catch up to it on some slow evening.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Keith, yeah it’s definitely better as a rental. I think had this film came out in the 80s, it would’ve been a hit.

  3. My only reason to see this is largely because of Walter Hill who definitely had a good run in the 70s and 80s but for some reason got lost. I like Sly as well but I too hate fake CGI blood. I really hope Hill gets the chance to make a film that will remind people why he was so good.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah, that’s the reason why I decided to rent it, just because I’m a fan of Walter Hill. Yup the CGI blood is pretty awful in this movie, I don’t get why action directors are still using that effects, they look fake. Just go back and use squibs like QT did in Django Unchained.

      I hope Hill gets another shot too, but with his strings of flops and his age, I highly doubt he’ll get another chance.

    1. Ted S.

      Hi Cindy, yeah I liked Slater too and used to watch a lot of his movies back when he’s still a leading man in big movies. His role in this movie was pretty small but he did okay in it. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

    1. Ted S.

      As long as you don’t have any high expectations for it, you might enjoy this movie. Like I said, it’s pretty standard action picture and it didn’t try to be anything more than that.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Eric, yeah if you like 80s buddy cop action pictures of the 80s then you might enjoy this movie. If you remember 48 Hrs. or Red Heat, both of which were directed by Walter Hill, you’ll like this one.

      1. Ted S.

        Wow I should’ve read what I wrote before hitting the REPLY button, LOL. Hopefully you got what I meant Eric, ha ha.

    1. Ted S.

      They’ve been using CGI blood in action movies for a few years now, if you’ve seen the Residential Evil movies or The Expendables, then you know how bad those effects look on the screen. I miss the days when action movies use squibs for blood splatter, LOL.

    1. Ted S.

      LOL, I totally agree that the trailer looked awful, that’s why I skipped seeing it in theater. Even when I rent the movie, I expected it to be bad but again I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. And yeah Stallone pretty mumbled a lot in the movie, ha ha.

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