BULLET TO THE HEAD – Review by Susan Granger

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Last week, it was Jason Statham in “Parker.” Before that, Arnold Schwazenegger’s “The Last Stand.” Now it’s Sylvester Stallone’s turn, as the aging action stars of “The Expendables” try solo turns again.

Stallone plays James Bonomo, a.k.a. Jimmy Bobo, a gritty, grizzled, heavily tattooed New Orleans hitman with a long rap sheet and little tolerance for the law. When he and his partner Louis (Jon Seda) go after Greely (Holt McCallany), a corrupt ex-cop, Louis is brutally murdered by hulky Keegan (Jason Momoa , familiar as “Conan the Barbarian” and Khal Drogo on TV’s “Game of Thrones”). Propelled by vengeance, Luddite Bobo teams up with young, techno-savvy, Washington D.C.-based Det. Taylor Kwon (Korea’s Sung Kang from “Fast Five”), who’s investigating the murder of his former partner – that corrupt ex-cop. When Kwon gets wounded, Bobo brings him to his daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi), a tattoo artist/med-student, who later gets taken as a hostage. After a bit of brutish bantering, bullying and Mardi Gras revelry, Bobo and Kwon go after Keegan and sleazy lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater) who work for real estate developer Rob Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). After detours to the bayou and a Turkish bathhouse, there’s a climactic hand-to-hand axe-fight at an abandoned power station.

Based on Alexis Nolent’s French graphic novel “Du Plomb Dans La Tete” (translated as “Headshot”), the cliché’-riddled script is credited to Alessandro Camon (“The Messenger”) and director Walter Hill, a venerable veteran whose macho credits include “The Long Riders,” “The Warriors” and “48 Hours.” As a bit of trivia, Hill used the same abandoned power station in New Orleans back in 1975 as a location site for his first feature, “Hard Times,” starring Charles Bronson. And if plastic surgery-enhanced Stallone seems even stiffer than usual, he’s obviously still suffering from a neck fracture from a stunt on “The Expendables.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Bullet to the Head” is a derivative, only occasionally funny 5. It’s already on the fast-track to the DVD shelf.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.