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Bullet to the Head' misfires

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Newest Stallone offering clich-ridden, dull

Apparently, Hollywood executives got together and declared the early part of 2013 'Geriatric Action Star Month.' We just had a brand-new Arnold Schwarzenegger outing ('The Last Stand') and we're a couple of weeks away from Bruce Willis in the latest installment of the 'John McLane gets the crap kicked out of him, but eventually murders everyone' saga that is the 'Die Hard' franchise.

And in the here and now, we have Sylvester Stallone getting back to the roots that he's made millions mocking in the two 'Expendables' films.

Unfortunately for Sly, 'Bullet to the Head' is almost certain to leave him as a distant third man on the aging action totem pole.

James Bonomo (Stallone) better known as 'Johnny Bobo' is a New Orleans hitman. He and his partner are hired to kill a man named Greely (Holt McCallany, 'Gangster Squad'), but after they do the job, there's a double-cross (isn't there always?), and in the ensuing ambush, Johnny barely escapes with his life. His partner isn't so lucky.

It turns out that Greely is an ex-cop a dirty one and his ex-partner Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang, 'Fast Five') turns up in New Orleans looking for answers. Johnny Bobo is the only lead that Kwon has.

Of course, when the two meet, things get complicated. Circumstances lead to Johnny saving Kwon's life, even going so far as to take the injured detective to see his daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi, TV's 'Chicago Fire') to get stitched up. Before long, Johnny and Kwon realize that each of them has his reasons for solving this mystery, so they become reluctant allies.

The conspiracy leads ever higher involving a wealthy mogul (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, 'Best Laid Plans') and his mercenary minion Keegan (Jason Momoa, 'Conan the Barbarian') among many others; the two men find themselves on their own, unsure if they can trust anyone including each other.

Watching Stallone in this movie is a revelation you can't separate this performance from the ones he gives in 'parodies' like 'The Expendables.' He does the exact same things. And you never ever forget that you're watching Sylvester Stallone up there. Even the one-liners such as they are come off as part of the formula.

As for the rest? Kwon is game, but he's not given a whole lot of depth to work with. Shahi is basically a plot device, Momoa does his usual thing of being a terrifying giant and Akinnuoye-Agbaje spends most of his screen time looking like he's the only one who knows how ridiculous this all is. 

'Bullet to the Head' is a big brainless action clich made up of smaller clichs. While the action (well the violence anyway) is fairly constant, there's never anything at stake. The most interesting things on screen most of the time are the eerily prominent bulging veins on Sly's forearms. Honestly those things are hypnotic.

Director Walter Hill has a history of strong action direction he's got movies like 'Red Heat' and 'Last Man Standing' on his resume but there's none of that furious flavor to be found here. It's basically directorial paint-by-numbers; it looks like a watered-down mishmash of stuff we've seen before.

There's no spark to 'Bullet to the Head;' there's no soul. It's just bland and empty and predictable. Not that we need deep meaning from our action movies, but some reason to care would be nice. This movie deserves to be forgotten as quickly as it likely will be.

1 out of 5

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