Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bullet to the Head

In August of 2012 we got The Expendables 2. In January & February of 2013, we get 4 films from 4 Expendables. January brought Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand and Statham's Parker. February brings Stallone's Bullet to the Head and Willis' A Good Day to Die Hard. Only 2 of the 4 interested me. The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head. Practically every Statham film is the same formula, and the last Die Hard film was, how can I put it politely... A complete fucking pile of triceratops shit. And unfortunately, both Schwarzenegger & Stallone's solo-efforts were a one-two punch of disappointment.

To be fair, I actually expected The Last Stand to be better. But it wasn't. With Bullet to the Head, I expected the generic end result that I got. The various delays the film received did not bode well for the film. The trailers didn't help either. They were poorly edited, they had horrible musical choices, and just didn't sell the film well enough for me to say, "That looks ace!". Look, if Stallone is in it, Im watching it. It does NOT always mean Im going to like it.

Bullet to the Head was directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours & Red Heat). The man may have directed some great films back in the day, but if this film is any indication, he may have lost any "special sauce" he once had. He hasn't directed a feature film since 2002. In that time, you either get hungry, or you get rusty. I think he got the latter. There are a lot of elements that can make or break a film. Story, casting, acting, editing, musical choices, etc. Aside from story, everything else is wrong with this film. Howabout I go one by one? Yes? Okay.

Let's talk story. I am absolutely okay with the story. Stallone plays a ruthless hit man whose partner is killed, and seeks revenge. Awesome. He partners up with a cop trying to investigate the murder, and naturally, they hate each other. Stuff happens, shit blows up, people get shot... In the face... A lot, and more stuff blows up. Okay, the story is out of the way. Moving on...

Casting. This film suffers the same casting problem The Last Stand did. You have your iconic action hero. In this case, Stallone. And you surround him with sub-par or little-known actors. Who else is in this? That Asian guy from Fast & The Furious 8, the black guy from The Thing remake, the neanderthal from the Conan The Barbarian (2011) atrocity... And Christian Slater. At least The Last Stand had Forest Whitaker, an oscar-winning actor. There really is not much else to be said about the cast. Reason being... Who the fuck are they?!

The editing was a huge issue for me. Walter Hill suffers what I call T.S.E.S. (Tony Scott Editing Syndrome). Both are (were, rather. Scott is dead) 60 year-old film makers trying to make "hip" new films. Tony Scott would throw in a really obnoxious CSI: Miami-esque edit/filter, or include some semi-ambient techno-esque music track. And it's ALWAYS horrible. Which is unfortunate, because I can strip the film of all of that, and see something good. But it IS apart of the film, so I can't classify it as "good". Walter Hill does the same shit with Bullet to the Head. Except the only difference is, it's ABSOLUTELY unnecessary. For instance, the scene would transition, and for no reason, the frame would shake and have a quick overlay of orange. There are a lot of strange and terrible editing choices in this film. A lot of the landscape shots of the city were sped up, again, much like CSI: Miami does. Fuck...

Music is a crucial component in a film for me. Look at Tron: Legacy. That film was pretty lame, in my opinion. But the score was phenomenal. And because the score was so great, every time I listen to the score, I always want to give the film another shot. Had this film had a better score, I may have enjoyed it a lot more. What did we get? A piss-poor, gloomy, and drum-driven rock song. It sounds like they snuck into the editing room of Taxi Cab Confessions, and stole their soundtrack files. I think Stallone may be through with wearing both the actor and director's hat for one production, but when he did, he got some pretty great fucking scores! Rocky Balboa, Rambo, The Expendables 1 & 2. Hill's music direction for this was very poor.

Another VERY VERY picky component of the film that bothered me, the format. Walter Hill shot this movie in flat. For those of you uneducated in the format options. You have 2 formats. Scope and flat. Scope is usually at the ratio of 16:9, and flat is at a ratio of 4:3. An easier way of putting it is scope is more rectangular, and flat is more square. Scope is wider, therefore you get more picture captured in one frame. Scope is aptly-named. Because when you watch a scope film, for the most part it feels bigger in size. When you watch a flat film, it feels smaller (and less cinematic, in my opinion). The poor editing and editing effects made the film feel straight-to-video enough, but the format REALLY makes it feel cheap. And just because a film is shot in flat, doesn't mean it's always going to feel sized-down (The Avengers was shot in flat, and that film is gigantic). But in Bullet's case, it doesn't help it.

Believe it or not, I do have great things to say about the film. The violence. The film gets pretty fucking brutal. Nothing you haven't seen before, but it feels real. A lot of R-rated action films that come out nowadays just have CG blood-spray/splatter and a couple curse words. Bullet to the Head earns it's title. It's brutally violent. Stallone causes some serious damage. And it's all believable because he is in incredible shape. There is one scene in a bath house that showcases his physical shape and physical ability at age 66. The man is a fucking beast.

Bullet to the Head. Is the film as good as it's title? Sadly, no. Had there been a bigger budget in place here, we could have gotten a better cast, better direction, and a better film. After The Last Stand and this, Im hoping Schwarzenegger & Stallone make it up with their next film together, The Tomb in September. Until then, there's always... Die Hard 5. Just kidding, that's gonna' blow hard... 5.
Click here to read the full article...