Paul Solet’s latest film, Bullet Head, is a strange spin on the heist gone wrong formula. The botched heist is simply the set-up for the rest of the film that sees our three protagonists trapped in a massive warehouse as they are stalked by an angry Mastiff. Yep, you read that right.
Rory Culken, Adrien Brody, and John Malkovich star as three career criminals hiding out in a warehouse after the heist of a lifetime goes tragically wrong. As they await a ride from a colleague they realise they aren’t alone. The building they stumbled upon happens to be the site of illegal dog fighting, and while left for dead one of the dogs has turned on its handler and gotten free, with plenty of anger to spare on the hapless thieves. If the dog’s owner (Antonio Banderas) doesn’t get them first.
Most of the issues I have with Bullet Head are with the uneven script by director Solet. The premise, while sounding silly, is actually pretty cool on-screen, but the tension is all too often cut by the overuse of flashbacks as our dog-loving protagonists tell canine-centric anecdotes to kill time. The none-too-subtle underlying theme of “animal abuse is bad” is also undercut by the bloodied corpses of the losing dogs, and the viciousness of the one who survived. Most of the violence inflicted upon these poor creatures happens off-screen at least.
A good amount of the dialog is crisp and funny, delivered with aplomb by all involved. Many of the flashback stories are genuinely interesting even if seemingly out-of-place. Banderas, in his short yet over-the-top time on-screen, tells a story of a neighbor’s dog digging up his mother’s garden, all while shooting an automatic rifle that never seems to run out of bullets. This is just one of the many odd, but kind of wonderful, scenes that make Bullet Head worth watching. In the end though it’s Brody‘s show as he is chased throughout the warehouse by the unstoppable beast, leading to some of the best scenes in the film, as well as the inevitable yet fulfilling climax.
Bullet Head uses its locations to the fullest thanks to Production Designer Nikola Berceck and DP Zoran Popovic. It is an incredibly good looking film, with some off the wall set pieces that set it apart from other films in this crime thriller sub-genre. Solet is a much better director than a writer, and he turns this uneven script into a highly entertaining film.
The DVD/Blu-ray contains some great bonus materials including a filmmaker’s commentary, deleted scenes, and five short documentaries on writing and directing the movie, the iconic cast, the animal actors, the score, and more.
Don’t let the silly premise fool you; even with its overuse of flashbacks, some tired dialog, and its confusing underlying message, Bullet Head has enough going on to keep you entertained until the end.
Bullet Head is on DVD and Blu-ray January 9th.