I will be completely honest. I didn't know a much about Bullet Head before I put it in for this review. I remember enjoying writer-director Paul Solet's debut Grace, but that film was a psychological horror and this one appeared to be more along the lines of a crime thriller.
The cast was quite impressive and I was looking forward to seeing Adrien Brody and John Malkovich trade barbs and match wits. Heck, I was even intrigued to see what Rory Culkin was up to these days. I am happy to say that while I was a bit surprised by the path that the film takes, it was an enjoyable ride that manages to pack a message into the tired criminal heist trope.
The story follows a crew of career criminals looking for that last/one big score and the inevitable unraveling of the heist's best-laid plans. Trapped in a warehouse that feels as big as the grand canyon, the crew faces a number of obstacles to their happily ever after including the cops, a crazy gangster and a vicious attack dog with a thirst for blood.
The film's calling card is the top-notch performances turned in by its A-list cast. While sure, Adrien Brody and John Malkovich may have seen better days when it comes to the direction of their careers, they are very capable here and help to elevate Bullet Head a notch above their peers.
In particular, there's one sequence in the film where the dog and Adrien Brody's character have what can only be described as an epic battle of man vs. dog. While this scene might be a bit bloated, the visual style and Brody's acting skills make it one of the best attack dog scenes since Cujo.
The film is quite the revelation for writer-director Paul Solet as the tension of the crew's predicament is broken up by flashbacks that share each individual's personal canine history. These flashbacks not only help to flesh out the characters' motivations and actions, but they pay off when the film preaches against animal cruelty.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Antonio Banderas' performance. It's no secret that I have been hard on Antonio in my last couple of reviews of his work, so it's nice to finally have good things to say about him. While he tends to veer off into James Bond too talkative villain territory at times, he brings just the right amount of rage and craziness without going over the top. It would be easy to overdo it given the situation, but Antonio's controlled performance adds to the delightful resolution of things.
It would be easy to make a comparison to some of Quentin Tarantino's early work, but that would be a disservice to Paul Solet and his distinctive take on this genre. The future is indeed bright for Paul and I look forward to seeing where his creative juices take him next.
Bullet Head is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.