The geriatric movie, spearheaded by Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, is on trend in Hollywood right now, reviving flagging careers of over-the-hill ’80s stars even as it satisfies our thirst for all things retro.
Yet while The Expendables had the good grace to keep its tongue buried in its wrinkly cheek, seeing Sly come over all serious in the ultra-violent Bullet To The Head is much less appealing.
Marking a belated collaboration with veteran Walter Hill (his first directorial effort since 2002’s Undisputed), this tale of a grizzled hitman (Stallone) forced to team up with a clean-cut cop (Fast & Furious regular Sung Kang) is like a nasty riff on Hill’s classic buddy movie 48 Hours.
On Sly’s ass is Jason Momoa’s assassin, which at least lets him slug it out with the Conan The Barbarian star in an axe fight. (“What are we, fucking Vikings?” he grunts.)
But this knuckleheaded effort, with its brutal body count, is as offensive as its hard rock soundtrack. And only once, noting “my arm is getting tired” when he’s in a Mexican stand-off with Kang, does Stallone show he’s feeling his age.
He might have been better off collaborating with a hot young talent, as Arnold Schwarzenegger does in The Last Stand.
Following cameos in both Expendables movies, Arnie’s first lead since 2003 sees him team up with Korean maestro Kim Jee-woon (The Good, The Bad, The Weird) for a rambunctious mix of hi-tech slick and old-fashioned silliness.
Arnie is Ray Owens, an Arizona sheriff living the quiet life until Eduardo Noriega’s escaped drug lord comes roaring into town.
Aided by a rag-tag team (including Johnny Knoxville), Schwarzenegger creaks and groans more than Sly does, softening that once-indestructible persona that dominated his ’80s output.
Not that Kim slacks on the violence; the final half-hour is little more than a David versus Goliath bloodbath, tempered with a few well-chosen sight gags and one stunning chase through a cornfield. Yet Arnie’s still got the chops to carry it off.
Here’s hoping he points Sly in the right direction for their upcoming collaboration The Tomb – before the ‘geriaction’ movie is retired for good.