Review: Bullet to the Head (15)

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Retro is definitely in vogue, and no-one does retro as well as Sylvester Stallone.

The Eighties tough guy, enjoying a late flowering with his Expendables franchise, further resurrects his past glories with this wink-wink homage to all the films he made in the distant past.

What’s more 66-year-old Sly is teamed with another dinosaur, 71-year-old Walter Hill, the writer/director of The Driver, The Warriors and 48 Hrs. Together this pair rustles up an old school bone-cruncher that owes everything to the OTT flicks on which Stallone built his reputation three decades ago. Stallone, grizzled, tattooed and lumbering along, plays Jimmy Bobo, a Mafia bad guy on a mission to avenge the messy death of a fellow hitman. Teamed with him in an unlikely odd couple pairing is a young, clean-cut Korean detective (Sung Kang as Taylor Kwon), who seeks similar retribution. Their uneasy buddy-buddy partnership forms the core of this dumb but energetic adventure. Hill throws everything into the mix – mercenaries, corrupt cops, bent lawyers – as he seeks to tick all the boxes and appeal to a 21st century audience brought up on loud, brash, colourful and empty movies. Think ’90s John Woo without the elegance.

Stallone looks like… a lump of lead. He crashes through the proceedings shooting, beating or mangling everything in sight whilst making cracks in a voice that sounds like floodwater rushing through a storm drain. Hill hasn’t really directed much for almost 20 years. He appears to be going through the motions, as does Stallone. Yet for all its familiarity and cartoon violence Bullet to the Head succeeds in re-establishing Stallone as the king of the actionfests.