Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Reel Preview: The Year in Film 2013 - Episode II

The conclusion of the Oscars means two things. First, the abysmal dumping-ground months of January and February are mercifully coming to an end. And Second, the prologue to the Summer Movie Season is about to begin. This second Episode of the year of 2013 looks at the month of March.
This March is packed, but these are the ones that look the most interesting:

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER – Bryan Singer (X-MEN, VALKYRIE) presents a CGI-heavy take on the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. Ewan McGregor stars.
STOKER – This little film was the very last to be produced by the late Tony Scott. It ran at Sundance last year to very positive reviews. It has a very heavy Hitchcock inspiration with themes of horror and psychological thriller. It is directed by Park Chan-wook and stars Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, and Matthew Goode.

OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL – Did you ever wonder how the Wizard of Oz came to be the Wizard, or how the good and evil witches became good and evil? No? Well, Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD, SPIDER-MAN) is going to tell you anyway. James Franco is the young wizard and Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz are the witches.
DEAD MAN DOWN – Niels Arden Oplev, (the original GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), comes to America with a revenge tale starring Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard, Noomi Rapace, and Dominic Cooper.

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE – Superstar Las Vegas magicians (Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey) get into a heated and comical street rivalry. Olivia Wilde also stars.
UPSIDE DOWN – Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) are two lovers kept apart by where they live: twinned worlds with gravities that pull in opposite directions; Adam is on the poverty-stricken planet, Eden is on a wealthy one.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN – Antoine Fuqua (TRAINING DAY) brings us DIE HARD in the White House. Stars Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman.
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION – The White House is (again) occupied by the enemy (see above), and only the Joes can save the day in this second installment of the series. Jon M. Chu (director of the JUSTIN BEIBER movie) directs this actioneer which stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES – Derek Cianfrance (BLUE VALENTINE) directs this drama about fathers and sons in the setting of a high-profile bank-robbery caper. Stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, and Ray Liotta.

Next month, in Episode III, Reel Speak looks at the second-half of the prologue to the Summer Movie Season (got that?), which is the month of April.



Monday, February 25, 2013

A Reel Opinion: Oscar Post-Mortem - The Good, The Bad, & The Glorious

The 85th Academy Awards wrapped with a few surprises and a few oddballs. Here’s how it all unspooled:

-First-time host Seth MacFarlane was a choice that came out of left-field, and his performance can fairly be called commendable. As we expected, many of his jokes pushed the envelope, and even the ones which fell flat he managed to follow up and turn it around. His song-and-dance routine in the opening was entertaining, and who knew the guy could croon like a classic Hollywood star? This Blogger says bring him back for more.
-As a non-lover of musicals on film, this Blogger was dreading this year’s “theme”. However, the result was fun and never got boring.

-Quite possibly the first Oscars in which two James Bond songs were performed and two Captain Kirks showed up.
-Christopher Plummer and Ms. Anne Hathaway were the epitome of class.

-Quentin Tarantino was the epitome of a jackass.

-Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy need to go away forever.
-Kristen Stewart doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything and it showed.

-Again, the theme of the night was musicals on film…but the well has been so dry in the past 20 years there wasn’t a whole lot to pay tribute to; in other words, we didn’t need to see the CHICAGO people twice. And how come no GREASE tribute?
-Not nearly enough nostalgia for an 85th outing.

-In the WTF Department: the orchestra performing live from another building, no Open before the host walked out, and the First Lady announcing Best Picture. WTF?

-We Saw Your Boobs.
-Lots of John Williams music was played, with his JAWS theme cueing the winners to swim faster. Nice touch.

-Daniel Day-Lewis, officially the Greatest Ever, needs to host the Oscars sometime soon. Who knew he was such a comedian?!
-The best movie of the year won Best Picture, and that’s really all that matters. AR-GO make history.

What say you?



Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Reel Opinion: Oscar Picks, Episode II

In this second and final Episode of Oscar picks for the year that was 2012, Reel Speak delves into the madness of selecting winners for three major categories:

This category is a three-way race by three Disney films; WRECK-IT RALPH, FRANKENWEENIE, and Pixar’s BRAVE. RALPH won the Producers Guild Award and the Annie Award, but this Blogger found the film to be off-balance, too watered down for kids, and ultimately dull. Pixar’s BRAVE walked away with the Golden Globe and BAFTA, but critics and fans have pointed out a weak third act, and this Blogger has trouble ranking it amongst Pixar’s best despite how visually stunning it is. The dark-horse here is Tim Burton’s wonderful and clever stop-motion-puppet-starring FRANKENWEENIE, which was a triumphant return to form for a director who has been churning out crap for the past decade. FRANKENWEENIE pulled at the heartstrings better than the rest of the field, and it has one thing that voters tend to love…homage to classic Hollywood. Remember that last point…

This Blogger’s heart is pulling for Steven Spielberg. Sure, he had a lot of help in LINCOLN from the Greatest Actor Who Ever Lived in Daniel Day-Lewis, but he also directed two other actors to Nominations (Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones), and he made people sitting around talking very interesting and exciting. However, David O. Russell’s SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is the first film to achieve the rare feat of being nominated in all four acting categories since REDS way back in 1981. Rare achievements go a long way.

Winner: David O’ Russell
A funny thing happened on the way to the Oscars. In October, this Blogger right away called ARGO the Best Picture winner. Then when the Nominations were announced, director Ben Affleck was left out (read about it here), and since only three films in the 85-year history of the Academy have won Best Picture without that Best Director nomination, it was reasonable to assume ARGO didn’t have a prayer. However, ARGO went ahead to clean house in the Globes, SAG, BAFTA’s, DGA, PGA, and in about ten-thousand other Guilds and Societies. Now the Oscars tend to do the opposite of what everyone else does, but many of those Guild members are Academy voters, too. Looking at the field…LINCOLN has The Greatest Ever and will be awarded thusly. LIFE OF PI is spectacular but no Nominations for acting. LES MIS will get its due thanks to Anne Hathaway, and no one (sadly) seems to be talking about ZERO DARK THIRTY. That leaves ARGO and its warehouse of awards going up against the juggernaut of acting films, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. So with all that said here is Reel Speak’s tiebreaker: ARGO is a film which shows Hollywood as the good guys. Academy voters are mostly made up of people who live and work in (ahem) Hollywood. People are going to vote for themselves. AR-GO win the Oscar.

Winner: ARGO

The 85th Oscars will be awarded this Sunday, Feb. 24th.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Reel Opinion: Oscar Picks, Episode I

In this first Episode of Reel Speak’s Oscar picks for the year that was 2012, this Blogger will make his selections for the Best Acting categories. 


The sentimental favorite in this category may very well be Sally Field, who is no stranger to the Academy. However, Field need only ask her BFF Meryl Streep just how difficult it is to keep that momentum going with the Academy over the years. After her, the entire field is evenly matched, with the exception being Anne Hathaway…whose tearjerking, heart-wrenching, singing-live-on-set performance in LES MISERABLES makes her the major favorite. Even those who weren’t crazy about the film loved her. 

Winner: Anne Hathaway


Very tough category with no real standout. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, with a nomination in every acting category, is the odds-on favorite with Jennifer Lawrence. However the real story here may be with Emmanuelle Riva (AMOUR) and Quvenzhane Walles (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD). Riva, who will turn 86 years old on Oscar night, is the oldest nominee ever, and Walles, at the age of 9, is the youngest. The Academy seems to love those age-related stories. Besides that…Riva was asked to do a lot emotionally and physically; doing more than what actresses in their 20’s can pull off. AMOUR had a lot of heart to it, and Riva was at the center of it. 

Winner: Emmanuelle Riva


This is the Heavyweight Division Championship Battle Royale category, with all five men (DeNiro, Jones, Arkin, Hoffman, and Waltz) having won Oscars before. Jones, Hoffman, and Waltz have been cleaning house during the award season, but DeNiro and Arkin are in films that the Academy really seems to love. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is up for a lot awards, but its strength seems to be in its actors. PLAYBOOK has to win something major, so it might as well be the Godfather of the Academy.

Winner: Robert DeNiro


This Blogger has been saying for many years that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor of all time. If he wins Best Actor his weekend, he will be the first ever to win three in this category; giving strong validation to this Blogger’s claim. Besides that, Day-Lewis’ powerful, yet tempered performance as this Nation’s 16th President is a galaxy away from the rest of the field and leaves a lasting impression. LINCOLN is up for a lot of awards but not expected to clean house, so it has to win for what it will always be remembered for. 

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis


In Episode II, Reel Speak will pick the major categories. The 85th Oscars will be awarded this Sunday, Feb. 24th

Friday, February 15, 2013


Director John Moore had to accomplish two things when putting A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, the unasked-for fifth installment in the DIE HARD series. First, he needed to make a film which feels right at home in the established DIE HARD universe, with the wit of the main character and the wow of the action pieces. Second, he just had to make a good movie which entertains.
John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to aid his incarcerated and estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) who is being charged with murder. Once there, McClane discovers that Jack is actually a CIA operative caught in a web of espionage.

It doesn’t take long to realize that A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD just isn’t very much fun. The first act grinds away slowly and painfully as it unloads a convoluted mess of a plot involving secret files, a Russian scientist, and a spin on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. For as much plot as they lay on, exactly what the big deal is about what the villains are after is never really made clear, and right away the threat our heroes are supposed to be fighting against seems non-existent.
Things don’t get much better once John McClane enters the story. McClane spends the entire film complaining how he’s supposed to be “on vacation” (a line he says about a billion times), which makes absolutely no sense since he was in Russia on the serious matter of his son being in a Russian prison. Once father and son get together and start avoiding gunshots and explosions, the film goes into cringe-worthy territory with shitty and forced dialogue, massive leaps in logic and characters just doing stupid things which make no sense and is often contradictory to the grand scheme of things.

John Moore’s directing style can be described as nothing short of a diarrhea explosion, because he just crafts a shitting mess here. The action scenes are so choppy it almost seems like they didn’t shoot enough footage on set. There is no sense of danger or dread and feel very un-inspired and un-creative. There is nothing special about this action film because it’s all gunfights; over and over and over again. It gets repetitive and dull.
Bruce Willis seems perfectly matched with Jai Courtney because they both seem like they are sleepwalking through the film. They are dull and wooden, have no charisma or chemistry together, and give no reason for us to care if the father-and-son angle ever plays out. Both characters are written weak, and the actors don’t seem to care.

As a DIE HARD movie, the film fails miserably as it has no energy or fun, no wit or charm, nothing to enjoy, and the onus is oddly never on McClane to save the day. As an overall movie is fails harder as it is poorly written, poorly directed, stupid and boring. This is bush-league filmmaking at its worst. Fuck this movie forever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Reel Review: The 2012 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films

The Oscar nominated live-action short films for the year that was 2012 are a curious bunch. Not only do they all have heavy-handed themes of life-and-death and living-and-dying, but they are very evenly matched in that there is no real super-standout. They are all very good, but there just isn’t a great one here and the winner will be the one with the least detractions.
The Films:

ASAD – This is a coming of age story in which a Somali boy is faced with living a life of piracy or the path of an honest fisherman. The charm of this film is that it is set up like a fable; almost like one of those smaller vignettes you see inside of a feature-length film to get a point across. The point works and the message is there, although some of it is left up to interpretation. The real draw for ASAD is that the cast is made up of real-life Somali refugees and is shot in a real camp/settlement. The revelation of how those people live is quite shocking.
BUZKASHI BOYS – A story about two young friends (a street urchin and a blacksmith’s son) who struggle to realize their dreams of being a Buzkashi rider (the horse/dead goat game Rambo played in RAMBO III), as they cope with life in war-torn Kabul. This film also excels thanks to its real-life location setting, and is another culture-shock on film. BUZKASHI is bittersweet yet charming, although the arc the boys go through can be seen coming from many miles away.

CURFEW – Richie, while committing suicide, gets a call from his estranged sister asking him to look after his nine-year old niece for the evening. CURFEW is very real and graphic, and is basically a retelling of the classic tale of a grown man finding the meaning of life again by spending time with a kid. It’s familiar territory, but it works mainly because of the performances; the chemistry between Richie (Shawn Christiansen) and Sophia (Fatima Ptacek) is fantastic and good enough to carry a feature-length film.
DEATH OF A SHADOW – A strange, otherworldly collector imprisons the shadow of a dead WWI soldier and gives him a second chance providing he can capture 10,000 shadows of dying people. SHADOW is a very high concept film and a clever mish-mash of supernatural and sci-fi. The storyline is very intriguing and would make a fantastic feature-length. The effects here are superb, and the set-design is outstanding. SHADOW packs a lot into its short running time, and that is its triumph and minor downfall; for as much as it packs in to set the stage for its high concept, its status as a “short” prevents it from fleshing things out just a little bit more.

HENRY – Henry, a great concert pianist, has his life thrown into turmoil when his wife of many years mysteriously vanishes. HENRY borrows several ideas and concepts from THE SIXTH SENSE and INCEPTION, none of which are apparent until this little number is about half-way finished. It’s a very confusing ride at first, but once you start to figure things out its easy to settle in. The concepts are very familiar and they work, but it just gets a little too comfortable and seems to play it safe too often.
The Oscars will be awarded February 24th. Review for the animated nominees here



Monday, February 11, 2013

A Reel Birthday

This month marks the 3rd anniversary of Reel Speak.
Reel Speak was created on the foundation of a love for the movies; a torrid and heated love affair which began in a darkened theatre in the spring or summer of 1977. In 2010, this Blogger decided to share that passion for film with friends, family, fellow-moviegoers, newcomers, and whoever else happened to come along. Sharing that passion has always been a driving force behind Reel Speak's creed of Movies, Opinions, Education. If you are reading this, then consider yourself a part of this Blog's success.

Although somewhat self-serving, the third birthday of this Blog seemed like the perfect time to share this Blogger’s reasons for loving the movies; all 20 of them:


20. Because those damn sandworms were up thirteen percent.

19. Because as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a gangster.

18. Because a Jaguar Shark ate my best friend.

17. Because we will not walk in fear of one another.

16. Because of John Williams.

15. Because I have been, and always shall be your friend.

14. Because in space, no one can hear you scream.

13. Because Red October was hunted.

12. Because the only Virtue is Vengeance. A Vendetta.

11. Because Crom laughs at your four winds!

10. Because it’s a wonderful night for Oscar.

9. Because they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

8. Because Claire once wore angel wings.

7. Because Phil Coulson died believing in heroes.

6. Because I will drink your milkshake.

5. Because if someone asks me if I’m a god, I say yes.

4. Because they needed a bigger boat.

3. Because there had to be snakes.

2. Because the Fellowship will not fail.

1. Because of what happened on May 25, 1977.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Steven Soderbergh has had a very diverse and successful career in the movies; having directed popular hits such as OCEAN’S ELEVEN and TRAFFIC, and producing Oscar favorites like MICHAEL CLAYTON and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. Soderbergh, now at the age of 50, has recently hinted at retiring from the business. If that be true, then his newest directorial effort, SIDE EFFECTS, should one day be remembered as one of his finest efforts.
Emily (Rooney Mara) has a husband (Channing Tatum) who is just getting out of prison for insider trading. Struggling with the adjustment to a new life, Emily winds up in the care of Dr. Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes her several prescriptions to combat her depression. Emily suffers through some depressive episodes and serious side effects, causing Dr. Banks to seek the advice of Emily’s former doctor, Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

The above plot synopsis doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of SIDE EFFECTS, as the plot is anything but simple. The film starts off as Emily’s story, as she struggles with her depression and suffers through the effects of the many drugs she is prescribed. Steven Soderbergh, with his magnificent command of the camera lens, puts together one cliffhanger after another; making us wonder if Emily will survive simple things such as chopping vegetables or waiting for a train.
After a series of shocking twists, SIDE EFFECTS takes an interesting, yet dramatic change in tone. The film switches focus from Emily to Dr. Banks in a LAW AND ORDER styled fact-finding narrative, as the many parties look into who is responsible for Emily’s troubles; the drugs, the prescribing doctor, or Emily herself. The shift in tone is dramatic and takes some getting used to, for at this point we are certainly emotionally involved and connected with Emily. However, SIDE EFFECTS has a great many pieces and parts in motion, and sticking through it all will bring some shocking, yet rewarding reveals by movie’s end.

Acting is tremendous throughout. Jude Law turns in what is probably his best performance, and is certainly a treat to see him in what can be considered a leading-man role; quite a change from only hearing him provide voiceovers for a certain super-computer with artificial intelligence. Channing Tatum doesn’t have much of a character and is instead mostly a placeholder, and Catherine Zeta-Jones goes to some interesting places we haven’t seen from her before. The film is absolutely owned by Rooney Mara, who makes her character believable and commands the story every second she is on screen.
The good guys wind up winning in the end to provide a happy ending, however the methods that the good guys took to obtain that happy ending doesn’t make the wrap seem all that happy; you honestly feel like taking a shower after spending time with these characters. SIDE EFFECTS will hang with you long after you leave the theatre, and that is the mark of a master storyteller.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Reel Review: The 2012 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

This year’s most-excellent batch of Oscar nominated animated short-films have two things in common (besides all being very good); first, they are all done (or at least appear to be) in traditional, old-school animation styles. There are no CGI bubble-heads to be found in this collection. The second thing they have in common is that they are all basically silent films. Not one word of dialogue will be heard when viewing these films which are competing for Oscar gold. 

The Films:

HEAD OVER HEELS - After many years of marriage, husband and wife Walter and Madge have grown apart: he lives on the floor, and she lives on the ceiling. As Walter makes attempts to re-kindle their old romance, the two of them can’t figure out which end is up. This is a remarkable little number done in stop-motion claymation which could easily be extended to a feature-length. It is funny and clever, heavy on allegory and the design into the inverted house is astounding.

MAGGIE SIMPSON IN: THE LONGEST DAYCARE - Maggie, of THE SIMPSONS, longs to be with the gifted kids at her daycare facility, but finds happiness and her meaning in rescuing a caterpillar from a bully. This film feels like it literally fell out of a small segment of THE SIMPSONS (during their better years), and that’s okay. It is sweet and fun, captures some magic of childhood, and has just enough twists and turns to stay interesting. 

PAPERMAN – This Disney short, in which a lonely man uses a stack of papers to get the attention of the girl he loves, is the most well-known out of the Nominees having run in front of WRECK-IT RALPH last year. PAPERMAN is in black-and-white, and is in done in Disney’s classic hand-drawn cartoon style. With its familiar yet classic style in place, the story unfolds naturally, and feels very much like something Walt Disney himself would have created during his youth. 

FRESH GUACAMOLE – The shortest of the Nominees at only two minutes, FRESH GUACAMOLE is probably the most fun. Done in stop-motion with real-life objects (and a pair of human hands), the film has no real story, and just simply shows a set of hands creating guacamole out of household objects; dice, poker chips, light bulbs, golf balls, and (pineapple) hand-grenades all serve as ingredients. 

ADAM AND DOG – At some point in history, the very first meeting between man and his best friend had to have taken place. ADAM AND DOG takes that concept into the backdrop of Adam and Eve. Shown from the perspective of the dog, the film takes us through the canine’s emotions as he is initially lonely, elated when he makes his first best friend in man, and then heartbroken as he is cast aside when Eve comes along. It is the most emotionally compelling story out of the Nominees. Done in a classic, 1970’s style-animation reminiscent of WATERSHIP DOWN, it has a very adult feel and can easily be extended to a feature-length film. It is a bit of a downer, but still offers hope because it ultimately shows why man and dog are so inseparable. Remarkable little film. 


The 85th Oscars will be awarded on February 24th.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Reel Opinion: The Super Bowl Movie Ads: The Good, The Bad, & The Glorious

With the summer movie season just three months away, major movie studios traditionally take advantage of the Super Bowl’s massive built-in audience. This year nearly every studio went short and sweet. Some worked, some didn’t.


-You get major points for starting off your spot with Air Force One getting blown out of the sky, and extra points to see Iron Man rocket out of that wounded aircraft and begin rescuing free-falling people. Marvel’s IRON MAN 3 spot was a spectacular eye-catcher, but was just too darn short to be considered any more than “good”. The spot was just a minor slice out of an action sequence, and offered no insight to plot or characters. 

-Fans of the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise were very pleased with the spot for the upcoming sixth film in the series. The trailer, very much like the previous films, was packed with car chases, crashes, and muscle-bound heroes (The Rock and Vin Diesel). But did the end of the trailer involve a major spoiler with the return of a character?


-OZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is a prequel to THE WIZARD OF OZ, so they must be banking on everyone already knowing the backdrop. The OZ trailer offered nothing but a blazingly fast montage of images which gave no hint of the story at all. Maybe that’s enough, but if you blinked…you missed it. 

-Although not a trailer for any movie, the Samsung ad which starred stupidass Seth Rogen and stupidass Paul Rudd was unfunny, unwitty, and way too long. 

-You get negative points for not showing up. Major 2013 releases such as MAN OF STEEL, THE WOLVERINE, OBLIVION, Pixar’s MONSTERS UNIVERSITY and GI JOE RETALIATION were curiously absent. 


-Disney has their hands full in promoting THE LONE RANGER; how do you get around the sidekick (Johnny Depp as Tonto) being a bigger star than the title-character (Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger)? Disney’s answer seems to be to just promote the film as an action spectacle. The extended spot actually ran during the Pregame Show (of which it was a sponsor), and was presented as a fun and wild thrill-ride. The longer running time gave room to offer a storyline, and the narrative was what drove the action; not the other way around. 

-There has been a lot of mystery surrounding director JJ Abrams’ STAR TREK sequel; like who the villain is and what he is after. The new TREK trailer answered none of those questions, and instead built another layer of mystery surrounding the Big Bad. On top of that, the question of why we see the Enterprise blow up for the 500th time is now up for endless internet pondering. All this sounds aggravating, but this TREK teaser deserves major points for showing and teasing new material, while at the same time never showing the man behind the curtain. That is a careful balance most never get right.  

-Again, not really a movie trailer, but whoever cast actor Willem Dafoe as the Devil in that Mercedes Benz spot deserves an Oscar. Make that movie, please. 

What say you?

Friday, February 1, 2013


BULLET TO THE HEAD features a team-up of two action-movie titans from the 80’s and early 90’s. First and foremost is Sylvester Stallone; the centerpiece of the now iconic ROCKY and RAMBO franchises. The second piece is director Walter Hill, who has helmed a few films now considered to be 80’s classics and cult favorites; 48 HRS, STREETS OF FIRE, and THE WARRIORS to name a few. The pairing of the two had the potential to recapture some early-career magic and offer some wham-bam action fun. 

Ruthless hitman James Bonomo (Stallone) gets double-crossed on a hit-job in which his partner is killed. Bonomo teams up with detective Kwon (Sung Kang) to track down who is behind the double-cross. The path leads them to real-estate tycoon/crook Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who is aided by his slick lawyer Marcus (Christian Slater) and mercenary Keegan (Jason Momoa). 

BULLET TO THE HEAD doesn’t offer much in the way of plot or character. The story is simple enough; keep killing bad guys until there are none left. A few sub-plots are wedged in here and there to develop the dastardly real-estate scheme by Morel, but it doesn’t amount to much because it is so briefly mentioned and underdeveloped there is no reason to care if the bad guys win. In the meantime, we are treated to Stallone going on a rampage; cracking skulls and shooting guys left and right. 

The plot doesn’t give anything to think about, and that could be forgivable if there was something else to latch onto, which there isn’t. Characters are one-dimensional and serve no purpose other than to either shoot or get shot. With the plot so lame, the characters should be the one thing to make the film fun, but they just aren’t. Director Walter Hill tries really hard to re-capture his odd-couple team-up fun with Stallone and Kang, but the dialogue is lame and goes nowhere. The two of them spend nearly half of the movie driving around in the goddamn car, and for as much as they talk and threaten each other, by the trips end it feels like we went nowhere. 

Hill seems to be suddenly ill-suited to direct an action flick. The gunfights are uninspired and empty, and the fight-scenes are even worse thanks to too much cutting and wild shaky-cam. A climatic axe-fight between Stallone and Momoa builds up nicely, but is so poorly executed it isn’t long before you realize you aren’t having much fun. 

Stallone does pretty well with what he is given to work with. He plays a gruff bad-ass just fine and his physique is impressive for his age. Performances all-around are decent, but the show is nearly stolen by Jason Momoa (he played Conan in the shitty CONAN THE BARBARIAN remake) who makes a great villain and has a commanding screen presence. 

As an action-film, BULLET TO THE HEAD falls flat because the scenes are dull and lifeless. As a buddy movie there’s nothing to latch onto as the characters never get past the first page of the script. The film strikes out everywhere, and by movie’s end you’re looking for your own bullet.