We’ll Be Hanged Hangman

DATELINE:  Pacino & Shahi

 Hangman stars

Al Pacino is at an age when Robert DeNiro plays comedy roles, but Pacino is still looking at detective action thrillers.

He is a bit long in the tooth, and we worry when he falls down that he may break a hip. He looks great actually.

In Hangman, he has chosen the role of a detective who retired a year ago (at 77) and is back on special assignment with his young partner (Karl Urban) when a serial killer calls out their badge numbers.

There is some initial interest in seeing this movie because of the cast, and Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest) as the young, tough woman captain of the force in some small city.

For some reason inexplicable to anyone, Pacino plays his detective with an Andy Griffith, aw shucks, Mayberry accent. He’s the only one with such a speech impediment among the New York actors.

If that were not weird enough, the serial killer wants to play Hangman, literally, hanging his victims with a letter carved into their bodies.

Well, if koo-koo descends into ridiculous, we do not find it sublime. We’ve had our fill of brilliantly smart serial killers. We are challenged to stay with this film, mainly because of the actors.

The plot does not thicken: it curdles. We discover both detectives have a personal connection to victims, but this does not disqualify them from the case.

And, to make matters worse, there is a Lois Lane type tagging along to all the crime scenes. When told not to obstruct justice, she enters the case and compounds trouble. Call her the plot hole.

It’s enough to throw in the noose and call it a hang dog day afternoon. Just terrible, and what a waste of talented actors.

Stallone is Hit Man, but Movie is No Hit

DATELINE:  No Name on the Bullet

Cast: Stallone, Shahi, Kang, Hill, Momoabullet

Bullet to the Head (2012) used to be what we called a “crime meller,” in the old days, but it’s been updated to meet the standards of today’s violence. It’s more of a romp than an art piece.

Sylvester Stallone is about as jacked as a 65-year-old can be, almost looking obscenely fit as he punches out men half his age. He plays a New Orleans hit man, world weary and cynical. One of his first movies was with Robert Mitchum (Farewell, My Lovely) and now Stallone has turned into old Bob Mitchum, which isn’t bad.

The film does play off his age: the attractive woman he seems to be romantic with turns out to be his daughter (Sarah Shahi, the only survivor from Person of Interest).

The film is built on the concept that Stallone teams up with a DC cop (Sung Kang) to find the men who killed their partners. Hmmm, not gay lovers, not wives, the film means their business associates. Jon Seda only seems like Stallone’s love interest.

The villains are a hoot—Christian Slater and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (Oz star). But, their henchman with a grudge is even better: it’s Aquaman, Jason Momoa.

Since everyone else in the film is younger than Stallone, he seems to be babysitting rather than acting. He can still deliver an entertaining action adventure film. However, not all was paradise on the production, as Stallone wanted a less dark crime picture which resulted in loss of Thomas Jane as his DC cop buddy. Instead, the producers went for political correctness with a Korean-American cop.

Stallone did uncredited writing—and some of that shines through, as he has always been underrated on that level. He also took final cut away from Walter Hill and made the film truly his own. We wonder why he simply did not direct it.

No matter, the film lost money big-time. Yet, it is an amusing time-passer. We never lost interest.