Review: Bullet

Danny Trejo stars as the titular cop and recovering addict Frank ‘Bullet’ Marasco, who has a daughter (Tinsel Korey) who also happens to be an addict…but she’s struggling with sobriety a lot more than her dad. Meanwhile drug lord Jonathan Banks is scheming to get a stay of execution for his murderer son currently on Death Row. So he kidnaps the daughter of the local governor (John Savage) to get daddy to comply. Bullet’s own grandson also winds up kidnapped by Banks, presumably because Bullet was the cop who arrested Banks’ son in the first place. Eve Mauro is a cop, Torsten Voges is Banks’ henchman, Max Perlich is a criminal, and Julia Dietze is a shonky lawyer.

There haven’t been too many action stars in their 70s that I can think of, and despite being a lot shorter than you might think he is, Danny Trejo has zero problems convincing you he’s a tough mofo. Produced by “Machete” director Robert Rodriguez, this 2014 flick from co-writer/director Nick Lyon (director of “Species: The Awakening”) is sadly not an adequate vehicle for Trejo. In fact, it’s veteran villain Jonathan Banks who steals the show (something he’s been doing since the 80s), but there’s very little show to steal with this flat, clunky and tired film. I’ve always enjoyed a villain who gets someone to hold a golf tee between their teeth and takes a swing. It’s an old act, but an effective one and when the poor guy moves, Banks decides to beat him to death with the club, with blood splattering on the camera. There’s no real reason to see the film, but if there were, it’d be Banks. He’s great, the film isn’t.

Lead Danny Trejo has done better elsewhere, and the prison fight he has at the start of the film ultimately goes completely unexplained. He’s far from the worst actor here though, as even on a good day I don’t think John Savage (who used to make legit movies like “The Deer Hunter”) had all that much talent. Savage’s performance here suggests it’s his first time acting. It’s both bizarre and sad to see. Even worse though, is Julia Dietze, whose impenetrable French accent is all wrong for her lawyer character named Brooke Madison, and she has less than zero idea how to properly interact with someone in a scene. It’s completely insane but watch the film and tell me I’m wrong. Eve Mauro and Tinsel Korey aren’t much better as, respectively, a cop and the title character’s drug-addicted daughter. In fact, Korey is porno-bad at times. Look out for a rather chubby-looking Max Perlich early on as a not-so smart criminal, and Noel Gugliemi as ‘Punk #1’, essentially a walk-on version of the standard Hispanic gangbanger he usually plays. If anyone manages to come close to stealing this away from Banks, it’s Torsten Voges. The same guy who Adam Sandler mocked in “Funny People” for looking and sounding like Alexander Godunov in “Die Hard” has been cast here as essentially an Alexander Godunov-type, Banks’ chief henchman. He’s just as funny here as he was in that film and I’m pretty sure the comparison to Godunov is intended.

Jonathan Banks and Torsten Voges liven up the film with some fun villainy, but they can’t save a clunky, subpar film that is a rung or two below Danny Trejo vehicle standards, too. He sure drives a cool car though, not quite sure how a cop salary pays for it. The film was scripted by the director, Ron Peer, Byron Lester, Charlie Shahnaian, and Matthew Joynes, and was also the source of a legal kerfuffle between Lyon and producers who took the film away from him. Perhaps the abundance of screenwriters and the producer interference explain why it’s all a bit of a mess or perhaps it could’ve been even worse had producers not stepped in. All I can say is, based on what I saw this just isn’t good.

Rating: C-


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