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It was a gutsy thing to do casting Jason Momoa as the villain in BULLET TO THE HEAD, what with star Sylvester Stallone obviously being under the impression that he is still in his action-hero prime, and Momoa being all that Stallone ever was and a whole lot more. Momoa, all musky charisma and bulging muscles, is the best thing in the flick, though the enterprise as a whole is a lost cause. Loud, ridiculous, and insulting, it has nothing to recommend it except Momoa’s smoldering menace, and even that is outmatched by the peculiar way all Stallone’s veins seem poised to take leave of his body, pumped up to a high relief and an almost prehensile sensibility.
The story, based on the graphic novel “Du Plomb Dans la Tete,” is a cacophony of hackneyed plot devices from every sub-par action-thriller ever devised, and Stallone seems as bored as the audience as he goes through his paces as a hit man out for revenge. Even the snarl on his otherwise immobile face has a perfunctory quality, which is perfectly in keeping with the star’s grunting method of delivering dialogue in a raspy voice that is either whispering or shouting without ever quite working out the trick of being convincing. Paired with an unwilling partner (Sung Kang), a DC cop in New Orleans investigating a murder out of his jurisdiction, Stallone mangles his lines, making the writing even worse than it already is by finding new and exotic ways to make politically incorrect painfully racist. Not that Sly has a clue about any of this, he struts like the cock of the walk from one gunfight to another, taking time out only to use his fists, swim underwater for an extended sequence, or mouth cringe-worthy lines in the worst possible way.
The raison-d’etre of the film is, of course, seeing how many corpses can be piled up in the most unconvincing ways possible, followed by would-be taglines that fall as fast and as hard as the hapless bullet-riddled victims. Time-outs are granted only for an interlude of nudity, for an interlude of torture, or the blathering on of extended and unhelpful exposition via phone messages or a crime lord’s explaining to a subordinate the entire back story of how said crime lord got into his particular pickle, and all of it punctuated by, of course, fiery explosions.
The relentlessly pedestrian pacing and defiantly dull direction pummels the audience the way Stallone pummels those who get in his way, only there is no sweet release of either unconsciousness or death for that audience. The flick just drones on from one improbable set piece to another without even the saving grace of a sense of fun or suspense. By the time Momoa and Stallone get out the axes, there is more than a whiff of desperation to it, as though all involved were looking to add something novel before the closing credits to alleviate at least part of the metaphorical bad taste BULLET TO THE HEAD leaves behind. It fails, becoming just another failed element in a sad and pointless exercise.