Bullet to the Head (2013)

BullettotheHead_1Starring Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Jon Seda, Holt McCallany, Brian Van Holt, Weronika Rosati, Dane Rhodes, Marcus Lyle Brown

Directed by Walter Hill

Expectations: Moderate and hopeful.


Bullet to the Head is a film that many will likely hate. Its story is convoluted and dumb, it’s needlessly gratuitous in its violence, and it looks more like an episode of a crime-themed TV show than a movie. But despite the odds stacked against it, Bullet to the Head succeeds by blunt force. This is far from being a good, well-made film, but it’s entertaining in all the right ways as long as you’re able to get into its groove. If nothing else, it should be impressive that Stallone is able to hold his own on-screen at 67 years old against people half his age.

Bullet to the Head opens with a hit. James Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner bust into a posh hotel room and quickly dispatch of the man inside. For reasons unexplained, James does not take out the sole witness to their crime, a woman hiding in the shower. When they go to get paid they find that the job was a set-up, as another hitman (Jason Momoa) kills James’s partner and almost does the same to James. Meanwhile, Taylor (Sung Kang), a cop from Washington DC travels to New Orleans to investigate the murder of his ex-partner (AKA the man killed in the opening hit). But while the New Orleans Police Department is standing in his way, Taylor finds an unlikely partner in James.

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Conan the Barbarian (2011)

ConanTheBarbarian_1Starring Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Bob Sapp, Leo Howard, Steven O’Donnell, Nonso Anozie, Raad Rawi

Directed by Marcus Nispel

Expectations: Super low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Against all odds, Conan the Barbarian is not a gigantic failure. They sure try in a lot of ways to drive the film into the ground, but thankfully they aren’t completely successful as this re-imagining of Conan’s origin story is pretty damn entertaining. But a good film it is not, although I was pretty fooled for the first 30 minutes or so. This section is by far the best in the film, and as soon as it’s over and Conan is actually Conan, things start to turn south.

This isn’t really a remake, as the story is completely different from John Milius’s Conan the Barbarian. In broad strokes they are somewhat similar, though, as both films open with Conan’s family being brutally murdered by an evil villain and Conan wishing for revenge. The villains are nothing alike, but they share a foreboding, formidable screen presence, inspiring a young Conan on his quest for revenge. So I suppose in this way it is a remake, but a remake in basic premise alone.

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