Thus far, the 80’s action revival has focused squarely on the stars of that period. It has completely ignored the unsung heroes of that era, namely the directors who crafted such films. One such man is Walter Hill. The current resurgence has allowed him an opportunity for reentry, in the form of the upcoming Stallone vehicle A Bullet to the Head.
A Bullet to the Head tells the story of two men on opposite sides of the law. Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) is an aging hitman who is nearing retirement age. His plans to exit the business are put on hiatus when his partner is brutally murdered. NYPD detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) suffers a similar loss. The two men find that they have a common enemy, and become unlikely allies. Their investigation takes them from the Big Apple to the Big Easy, where a formidable enemy lies in wait. The cost of revenge matters little to Jimmy, as he means to exact much more than his requisite pound of flesh.
A Bullet to the Head is the American adaptation of Alexis Nolent's French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete. It marks the unceremonious return of director Walter Hill to the director’s chair. He’s decided to stick to what he knows best, and what he knows best happens to be a genre he revolutionized 30 years ago: The buddy film. This trailer shows him to be right at home. At one point, Stallone and Jason Mamoa can be seen dueling with axes. This is an obvious callback to Hill’s “Rock & Roll Fable” Streets of Fire, which ended with Michael Paré and William Dafoe facing off with railroad spike hammers.
Stallone continues to suppress the ravages of time via plastic surgery and steroid use. Certain shots display his tattooed and shiny physique as if it were a Mattel action figure, freshly popped out of the packaging. I’m not sure if that was the desired effect, but the artificiality of his appearance feels downright morbid.
The current wave of 80’s nostalgia has been enjoyable, to a point. It’s nice to have the old guard back in action, but it would be even better if this resurgence yielded at least a couple of films that are truly worthy of the era and genre being paid homage. Otherwise, it will have been a bit of a waste. I don’t doubt that Bullet to the Head will be that film, but I can only hope.