Bullet To The Head

Warner Brothers

Rated R for profanity, nudity, drug use, graphic violence and bloody images.

Unlikely-Buddies Flick Features Cop And Hit Man On Revenge-Fueled Rampage

Sylvester Stallone is the only movie star to be number one at the box office in five straight decades, a record stretching from Rocky in the ‘70s through last summer’s action hit The Expendables 2. And judging by Bullet To The Head, the gracefully-aging matinee idol need not retire to a rocking chair any time soon.

This riveting revenge thriller was directed by the legendary Walter Hill who, back in 1982, brilliantly cast Eddie Murphy in his big screen debut opposite Nick Nolte in 48 Hours. Here, his inspired pairing of Stallone and relative newcomer Sung Kang as unlikely buddies proves to be equally entertaining.

Based on Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel of the same name, Bullet To The Head revolves around two tough guys from opposite sides of the law who grudgingly team up to settle a score with a common adversary. Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) is a hit man operating in New Orleans whose protégé (Jon Seda) has just been gutted in a bar by a goon with a Bowie knife (Jason Momoa), while Taylor Kwon (Kang) is a cop from Washington, D.C. in town to investigate the murder of his partner (Holt McCallany).

As it turns out, both slayings were ordered by Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), an ambitious mobster who will stop at nothing in his quest for control of the Crescent City’s crime rackets. Because so many corrupt police officers and politicians are already in cahoots with Morel, double-crossed detective Kwon almost ends up dead when he tries to enlist the assistance of the local authorities in solving his pal’s slaying.

That betrayal leads him to reluctantly forge an unholy alliance with Jimmy. Together, they proceed to embark on a bloody rampage, dispensing a brutal brand of vigilante justice to the henchmen running interference for the ruthless Morel. Besides creating major mayhem, however, the two share many moments of levity during disagreements over what weapons and tactics to employ.

Streetwise Jimmy repeatedly relies on his instincts and brute force, shooting first and asking questions never, an approach which grates on tech-savvy Kwon dependent on his cell phone and the internet. Kwon also finds time to develop a romantic interest in Jimmy’s estranged daughter (Sarah Shahi), an attractive tattoo artist with a parlor in a seedy neighborhood.

Still, make no mistake, this action-oriented affair is all about exacting vengeance and escalating body counts, and it won’t disappoint diehard Stallone fans in that regard. Vintage Sly in his best outing since Cop Land!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 91 minutes

 

 

Amour

Sony Pictures Classics

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity.

Undying Love Explored In Poignant, Character-Driven Drama

Retired music teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) have been married for over 60 years, but the frail octogenarians’ love for each other remains as strong as the day they met.

The elderly couple lives in aParisapartment surrounded by music and art and other indicia of an appreciation of culture. Unfortunately, with Anne’s health in sharp decline, their days are now mostly spent attending to her host of medical issues.

For, she’s basically been bedridden since a stroke that left her right side paralyzed. And the poor woman’s biggest fear is not death, but the prospect of returning to the hospital or being moved to a nursing home.

It’s clear that doting Georges is so devoted that he would prefer to abide by his wife’s wishes. However, he’s no spring chicken either, and she’s gradually becoming more than he can handle as her health deteriorates. They do have a daughter, but Eva (Isabelle Huppert) is a travelling musician who can only visit occasionally because of her hectic touring schedule.

So, when it becomes obvious that Anne has passed the point of no return, Georges finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. Does he abide by his life mate’s last request and let her live out her days in the familiar confines of home, or does he resign himself to the fact that he can no longer provide the quality care she so dearly needs to survive?

That is the crux of the critical question explored in Amour, a bittersweet romance drama that just tugs on the heartstrings. Written and directed by Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher), the flashback flick has deservedly been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Foreign Film, Director, Actress and Original Script.

Paradoxically, Haneke decided to hint at the resolution during an opening tableau during which Georges and Anne’s flat is found on fire. A poignant tale of undying love.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 127 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening February 8, 2013

Identity Thief (R for profanity and sexuality). Crime comedy about an account rep’s (Jason Bateman) attempt to wrest control of his name back from the con artist (Melissa McCarthy) 2,000 miles away who stole his identity and went on a spending spree. Ensemble cast includes Amanda Peet, T.I., Jon Favreau, Morris Chestnut, John Cho and Robert Patrick.

 

Side Effects (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and violence). Psychological thriller about an anxious young woman (Rooney Mara) whose life starts to unravel soon after she starts taking mood altering medication to deal with the return home of her recently paroled husband (Channing Tatum). With Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vinessa Shaw.

 

Caesar Must Die (Unrated). Rehabilitation drama, set in Rome, revolving around maximum security prison inmates’ preparation for a public performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Starring Salvatore Striano, Cosimo Rega and Giovanni Arcuri. (In Italian with subtitles)

 

Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth Of Wonder (Unrated). Reverential retrospective about painter, beat poet and liberal activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti featuring archival footage of family, friends and colleagues like Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka and Dennis Hopper.

 

A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III (R for nudity and profanity). Charlie Sheen stars in the title role of this romantic comedy about a heartbroken graphic designer who comes to grips about being dumped by his beautiful girlfriend (Katheryn Winnick) by crying on the shoulder of his sister (Patricia Arquette) and a couple of pals (Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman). With Dermot Mulroney,AubreyPlaza and Marc Coppola.

 

Lore (Unrated). World War II saga, set in 1945, about a 14-year-old girl (Saskia Rosendahl) who leads her younger siblings (Nele Trebs, Mika Seidel, Andre Frid and Nick Holaschke) on a perilous, 500-mile trek to grandma’s house in Hamburg after their Nazi parents (Hans-Jochen Wagner and Ursina Lardi) are arrested by Allied soldiers. With Sven Pippig, Philip Wiegratz and Kai Malina.

 

The Playroom (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama, set in the ‘70s, revolving around four troubled siblings (Olivia Harris, Ian Veteto, Jonathon McClendon and Alexandra Doke) who escape to their attic while their alcoholic parents (John Hawkes and Molly Parker) are entertaining guests downstairs. Cast includes Jonathan Brooks, Cody Linley and Lydia Mackay.

 

A Rubberband Is An Unlikely Instrument (Unrated). Down-and-out documentary about a Brooklyn family’s attempt to keep their head above water while dealing with gentrification and financial woes during the waning days of the G.W. Bush administration.

 

The Sorcerer And The White Snake (PG-13 for sensuality, violence, action sequences and frightening images). Martial arts fantasy based on an ancient Chinese legend about a sorcerer’s (Jet Li) fight for the soul of a physician (Raymond Lam) who has fallen in love with a 1,000-year-old snake disguised as an attractive young woman (Eva Huang). With Vivian Hsu, Zhang Wen and Charlene Choi. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

 

Top Gun (PG for action sequences, sexuality and profanity). 3D rerelease of the 1986 Tom Cruise classic chronicling the competition among some daredevil Navy pilots to graduate at the top of their class. With Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan.

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