Bullet Head, 2017.
Directed by Paul Solet.
Starring Adrien Brody, John Malkovich, Rory Culkin and Antonio Banderas.
After a heist gone tragically wrong, three career criminals find themselves trapped in a warehouse with the law closing in. But, inside the warehouse, a more dangerous threat awaits—as the fugitives are plunged into a furious battle for their lives.
A lot is said about movie trailers ruining the experience. You watch a trailer that either shows the major plot points, the biggest laughs and surprises, or outright sell the wrong movie. On the other hand, going to see a movie knowing only the title and maybe who’s in it can also give you the wrong impression. This is to say I was very wrong about the type of movie Bullet Head is.
It all starts with a POV scene. We look through the eyes of a creature being led by two men. It feels almost like a monster movie. The sight is a bit blurry, and a menacing presence is guiding us through this world, until you notice it’s a dog we’re following. An incredibly savage and strong dog.
Writer/director Paul Solet’s third feature (he also wrote and directed 2009’s Grace) stars Adrien Brody, John Malkovich and Rory Culkin as a group of criminals who suddenly find themselves trapped in a warehouse with a crazy dog that wants to tear them to shreds. It also features Antonio Banderas. All of this is in the trailer, but this movie is even crazier than it sounds.
After the monster-movie-esque opening scene we meet our group of criminals. The movie is set on a single location and there is a lot of talking, yet we don’t really know the characters or their names – but according to the credits their names are Stave (Brody), Walker (Malkovich) and Gage (Culkin), with Banderas playing Blue. Their lack of names is also a lack of almost any character development. We don’t really get to know any of these characters, but we do get a lot of flashbacks. For some reason each character gets a flashback. They don’t really make that much sense or say that much about the characters’ motivation. Somehow, they end up being one of the best parts of Bullet Head.
As I said, there is a lot of talking in this movie. Despite what the trailer may show, there is not that much action in the movie – though we do get Adrien Brody running from a dog and hiding in a piano! – and once in awhile a character starts telling a story just barely related to what’s happening. Then, in the middle of the flashback sequences the camera moves, revealing the character telling the story in the present. Paul Solet then continues the flashback while we see the characters commenting on what’s happening around them. These are the scenes where the acting shines, as Brody and Malkovich specially show to have real chemistry on-screen. Antonio Banderas seems to be having the time of his life as the villain, a ruthless man in charge of a dog-fighting pit. He savors every line of dialogue and every bullet he fires, making it feel like the most important thing in the world.
Solet and director of cinematography Zoran Popovic really know how to make use of Bullet Head’s single location. While the warehouse feels huge at times, and we don’t stay in a single room for too long, the camera stays close to the main characters and really makes it a point to show that they’re trapped there. Despite being in a room big enough to house four buses, the camera gives it an almost claustrophobic feeling.
As I wrote at the beginning of this review, sometimes a movie can end up being nothing like you first imagined. Bullet Head is B-horror and an action movie, but I was tearing up by the time I realized this is also a surprisingly sweet and emotional story about animal cruelty.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★