Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 6, 2022)
Circa 2010, Sam Worthington got every chance in the world to become a legit movie star. With lead roles in major flicks such as Avatar, Terminator: Salvation and Clash of the Titans, he looked primed for a major career.
Or maybe not, as Worthington never got much of anywhere after that short run, which leads him to roles in small direct-to-video flicks like 2022’s 9 Bullets. Perhaps late 2022’s Avatar sequel will allow him a second shot, as Bullets clearly does nothing to help his cause.
11-year-old Sam Stein (Dean Scott Vazquez) witnesses the brutal murder of his parents. This leads to potential danger, as those behind the crime want to ensure he doesn’t identify them.
A former burlesque dancer turned author, Sam’s neighbor Gypsy Moon (Lena Headey) comes to his rescue and attempts to shepherd him to safety. This leads to a potential confrontation with criminal kingpin Jack (Worthington) – who also happens to be Gypsy’s ex.
As noted, it remains to be seen whether or not the second Avatar flick will give Worthington’s career a boost. Bullets shows a man desperately in need of that renewal, as it becomes a mess.
With this as evidence, it looks like Headey needs a shot in the arm as well, though she never enjoyed the same platform to potential stardom that Worthington got circa 2009-10. While Headey worked in a good number of fairly high-profile projects – with Game of Thrones as her biggest calling card – she didn’t receive lead roles that pointed toward major stardom.
Given its direct to video status, Bullets seemed unlikely to change this. Even if it offered a high quality project, it just wouldn’t reach enough of an audience to alter trajectories.
Unfortunately for all involved, Bullets brings the opposite of a “high quality project”. Random and borderline incoherent, the movie seems much more likely to harm careers than to help.
Though the film gets billed as an action thriller, instead Bullets provides a melange of genres. In superior hands, it might pull off all the stylistic shifts, but as executed by writer/director Gigi Gaston, the final product turns into a vague collection of scenes in search of consistency.
Despite the thriller motif, Bullets really wants to offer a story of a hard-edged woman whose heart slowly melts when she gets to know a needy kid. Trite as that topic may seem, I find no fault in the basic concept, but the execution flops.
Bullets jumps from one tone to another with bizarre alacrity, and it can often feel like a bunch of unconnected movies edited into one. Completely contrived, the lack of logic and stability make this a weird mix.
Gypsy and Sam seem awfully glib and unconcerned as they plot their escape. We rarely get any sense of the danger that confronts them.
Instead, the movie plays more as a buddy comedy in which the mismatched protagonists butt heads in cute ways. We all know where this will end, and the journey seems unconvincing and trite.
Headey actually delivers a good performance, but she can’t sell Gaston’s atrocious dialogue. No one could make us buy awful lines like “an angel just passed through to heaven!” or “I’m a cat with nine lives – it takes nine bullets to kill me!”
Bullets hopes to give us an affecting mix of action, drama and comedy. Instead, it winds up as a misbegotten dud.