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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Shahi’

Someone appears to have declared this to be Old Git Action Month, for the ancient stone gods of the genre have risen from their stately thrones and are lumbering about the place making the dull honking noises that was ever their primary mode of communication. First of all we had Arnold Schwarzenegger, not exactly back with a bang in The Last Stand, and, close upon his heels, here comes Sylvester Stallone, starring in Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head: a movie so utterly in thrall to its own genre conventions it practically reviews itself.

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This is a film with a slight problem on the Silly Name front. Stallone plays New Orleans hitman Jimmy Bobo, who is going about his business as usual with his partner (obviously, he has a code of honour, which he appears to have bought pre-owned from a character in a Luc Besson movie). However – and don’t bother to stop me if you’ve heard this one before – the duo find themselves set up while on what appeared to be a routine job, and his partner is offed.

In town to investigate the killings is strait-laced Washington PD detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), whose investigative skills seem to be limited to googling people on his smartphone. Nevertheless, Kwon tracks down Bobo and convinces him that they should team up to find whoever ordered the hit in the first place.

On paper it sounds somewhat complex, and I suppose it is a bit, but what it all boils down to is Kang googling people on his smartphone (seriously, he’s never off the damn thing, and Stallone even mocks him for his dependence on it – I thought this was all building up to a climactic gag where Kang would actually use the phone to kill someone and resolve the plot, but no) so that he and Stallone can drive round there and shoot them (sometimes after roughing them up a bit). It all turns out to be about local civic corruption, but even this plot gets peremptorily switched off so Stallone and featured bad guy Jason Momoa can have a set-piece fight with axes.

Walter Hill has been knocking out movies like this for well over thirty years, and this is hardly one of his better productions. As loud, bloody, extremely macho and formulaic action thrillers go, it’s okay – red-blooded old-school fans of this sort of thing will probably find it passable, but the whole thing stews in its own testosterone to the extent that anyone else will probably find it a bit objectionable.

For example, most of the female characters, and both of the significant ones, have at least one nude scene, usually relatively lengthy. And it’s a bit bemusing that Sung Kang was specifically cast in this movie (replacing Tom Jane) in order to give it ‘wider ethnic appeal’ when the treatment of his character is arguably quite racist: Stallone gets to make numerous cracks, calling him Confucius, Oddjob, Kato, and so on. And quite apart from that, his character is just insipid – he’s not Stallone’s partner, he’s a whiny sidekick who goes on and on about his phone and about how, when all this is over, he’s going to have bring Stallone to justice for being a hitman (no prizes for guessing whether he does or not). He comes across as weak and dorky.

Then again, the film isn’t looking to give anyone equal billing with Stallone, for this is his vehicle. For a pensioner, he looks in frankly alarmingly good shape – he gets a lengthy fight sequence in his pants, which I can’t imagine any other actor of his age agreeing to, and faces off with the half-his-age Jason Momoa quite convincingly. His face appears to be permanently stuck in an expression of hangdog wounded cynicism, and his voice is virtually a gravelly monotone (he can vary the volume but not, apparently, the pitch), but I think this was probably always the case.

The thing about The Last Stand is that at least it has the novelty value of being Arnie’s first starring role in nearly a decade. Stallone’s been plugging away doing this sort of thing almost non-stop since the 80s. There’s a vague attempt to acknowledge Stallone’s back catalogue and screen persona, but he could have made this film twenty years ago with only the tiniest of changes. As a lowest-common-denominator action thriller it is perfectly serviceable, but it’s also thoroughly mediocre and a tiny bit pointless. Maybe Arnie and Sly should get together for a – oh, God, no, I’ve just remembered that they already have. As you were, gentlemen.

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