Sylvester Stallone Topless - Bullet to the HeadEver since Rocky Sylvester Stallone has been one of cinema’s premier punchers. He punches here, he punches there, he pretty much punches everywhere. But mostly he punches people in the head. So it’s a surprise to find him starring in Bullet To The Head – a film that one would imagine centres around him shooting people in their perfectly punchable bonces.

Never fear though, there’s a perfectly good explanation. Stallone is playing a Hitman and whilst punching someone to death will usually get the job done, the pulpy mass that would remain wouldn’t be what you’d call ‘clinical’. So we’re introduced to his ‘Jimmy Bobo’ as he clinically shoots someone in a hotel room and soon enough he becomes embroiled in a police conspiracy. A conspiracy that will lead him to join forces with NYPD detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) who will fight with him all the way to the ‘power corridors of New Orleans’. I see.

Bullet To The Head is not so much a film as an extended homage. It’s also not so much an ‘homage’ as a dated film in old-fashionedclothing. There are people who think that the straight down the line nostalgia offered by these films is just super. But it’s all a bit naff isn’t it? In this case not only is the emperor wearing no clothes, but he’s wearing then unironically. The only thing that let me know I wasn’t in fact watching an 80s Stallone actioner was the clear and freakishly vascular (that’ll be the steroids then) reminder that Stallone is in fact 120 years old.

Director Walter Hill had a good run of form with The Warriors, Southern Comfort and 48 Hours. 30 years ago. He seems like a man with his heart set on returning to the glory years, revelling in the sins of times past.  But that’s a tad unfair. Whilst racism is something that has fallen drastically out if fashion (you know, because it’s utterly crap), the concept of the ‘homage’ is alive and well. Did you see Cabin In The Woods? That’s how you do homage. You move the genre on. You emphasise what we all loved about it the first time round and clean up the crap. You don’t roll around in it smiling to yourself with little regard for your audience. That’s self indulgent.

That’s what this is. It’s lazy self-indulgence. Who needs well drawn characters, an interesting plot or a progressive attitudes toward women characters when you can throw this at the box office to see if it sticks (something The Expendables obviously did). But hey, I’m not asking for any of these things. Stallone can not bother talking for the entire runtime for all I care. And go on Walter, make your women as superfluous as you want. As long as we know that you know what you are doing and that you are doing it properly then go ahead. But to do that you need credibility. Something that pretty much everyone involved no longer has, and on this evidence, no longer deserves.

But it’s also occasionally quite good fun as well. So there’s that.