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Laramie Movie Scope:
Bullet to the Head

Bloody action film set in the Big Easy

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 6, 2013 -- Sylvester Stallone has been starring in action movies for more than 30 years, but is not quite done with that genre yet, thanks to a couple of recent hit action films, “The Expendables” and “The Expendables 2.” This latest one got off to a bad start on Superbowl weekend, which is a tough time to open any movie.

In this film, Stallone stars as a career criminal in New Orleans, a hit man, and typical anti-hero, James Bonomo. The film starts off with Bonomo and his partner, Louis Blanchard (played by Jon Seda of “Bad Boys 2”) pulling off a contract killing with some difficulty when the seemingly dead man revives and attacks Blanchard. Bonomo decides against killing a witness to the crime. He figures the witness, a prostitute, will be too scared to talk to police. He is right.

A couple of hours later, in a noisy, crowded New Orleans bar, a large, powerful man, Keegan (Jason Momoa of the 2011 remake of “Conan the Barbarian”) kills Blanchard without warning and tries to kill Bonomo as well. Soon after this, Bonomo is contacted by an out-of-town detective, Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang of “Fast Five”). Kwon is looking into the criminal organization behind the murder committed by Bonomo and Blanchard.

Bonomo doesn't like cops, but he decides to help Kwon track down the people behind Blanchard's murder and to find the man, Keegan, who tried to kill Bonomo himself. He and Blanchard had been partners for years and Bonomo wants revenge. Kwon wants to take down the criminal organization. As soon as Kwon meets Bonomo, he becomes a target of killers. Bonomo saves Kwon's life several times as the two start working their way up the ladder of the criminal organization behind all the killings. It is pretty simple for Kwon and Bonomo, kill or be killed.

Along the way, Bonomo takes Kwon to see Bonomo's daughter, Lisa, a tattoo artist who removes a slug from Kwon and patches him up. When the crooks capture Lisa and hold her hostage it leads to the final showdown between Bonomo and Keegan, as well as the rest of the bad guys. As you can imagine from this description, there isn't just a bullet to the head, but a lot of bullets to a lot of heads in this film. There is a lot of blood and a lot of bodies. This is a very violent film, culminating in a fight with fire axes.

The movie is not all that smartly-written. The partnership between Kwon and Bonomo isn't quite believable and Kwon makes some very bad choices at times, requiring the street-smart Bonomo to rescue him from his own foolish mistakes. Kwon's insistence that he is going to come after Bonomo at some time also seems very phony, given everything that goes on between Kwon and Bonomo's family in this movie. At the same time, the action scenes are well-staged and the pacing of the film is reasonably tight.

This is a very violent police action film, and that is all you can expect from it. You either like this sort of thing, or not. Like famed director Quentin Tarantino once said, “Saying you don't like violence in movies is like saying you don't like tap dancing sequences in movies. It is one of the many things you can do in movies and it is a very cinematic thing. You might not like it. It may not be your cup of tea. But the fact you should or should not do it is not up for question.” Among the people talking about regulating violence in movies these days are the spokesmen for gun manufacturers who are looking for any delay, any distraction to the focus on gun control legislation. These are the strangest of bedfellows. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)