Thirty years after giving us 48 Hrs’ mismatched buddy duo, veteran director Walter Hill delivers another ill-suited cop-crook pairing in Bullet to the Head – a brisk, lean, straight-shooting throwback to the world of 1980s action thrillers. The film even has Sylvester Stallone as its lead, a veritable 80s throwback himself, and one whose current career seems permanently stuck on repeat.
Stallone’s Jimmy Bobo is a grizzled New Orleans hitman who reluctantly joins forces with Sung Kang’s visiting Washington DC cop, Taylor Kwon, after his latest kill entangles him with a pair of crooked property tycoons (Christian Slater and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).
Naturally, Bobo and Kwon are initially at odds – Bobo’s a bayou thug, Kwon’s a by-the-book Korean-American cop whose corrupt former partner just happens to have been the target of Bobo’s hit; Bobo takes a two-fisted approach to getting information; Kwon uses his smartphone. Equally inevitably, the two becomes allies, their partnership lubricated by shared peril and racial insults.
It’s routine stuff, but the action comes thick and fast, climaxing with a brutal axe battle between Bobo and the villains’ lethal enforcer, a relentless mercenary assassin played by Conan the Barbarian hunk Jason Momoa. The film’s crime plot and pulp-noir feel (it’s based on a French comic-book series, Du Plomb dans la tête, by Matz) means that the tone is less self-consciously jokey than Stallone’s Expendables movies, but the star still gets to dish out a steady stream of quips with gruff panache. The film’s funniest touch, though, may well be the series of police mugshots of Bobo down the years that chart the ravages of time on Stallone’s own battered kisser.
In cinemas from Friday 1st February.
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