Criticizing Bullet to the Head for being a stereotypical ’80s-esque buddy cop film would be like criticizing a new Bob Dylan album for sounding like a stereotypical folk/rock album. You can’t call the guys who did it first generic: they invented the genre. And when you have a film starring Sylvester Stallone, king of the ’80s action picture, and directed by Walter Hill (who was behind the camera for the gritty 48 Hrs., among other great films like The Warriors), you know you’re working with the originals.

So I came in hopeful. I enjoy trashy films, even with Stallone. I own a copy of Demolition Man because I do believe that joy can still be found in an old formula, if you can keep the dialogue crisp, the action fresh, etc.

Alas, in these regards, the film is still a total failure. The plot is generic enough where I’m reasonably sure five sentences would describe it, and I am even going to leave off the second half of each sentence. See if you can fill in the blanks:

  1. Stallone plays an aging hitman whose partner…

  2. Stallone, with the help of a compromised rookie cop (Sung Kang, of the last four Fast and Furious films), angrily seeks…

  3. Stallone doesn’t understand the young cop, but his alluring young daughter…

  4. Due to his antics, his daughter is kidnapped and he…

  5. Axe fight.

But the surprises don’t stop there! Is it his “last” job? Is he unable to communicate with his partner of a different generation, and (gasp) a different race? Does he use a disproportionate amount of violence? The point is, even if you haven’t seen this movie before, you’ve seen this movie before.

So is there anything to recommend? Certainly not the dialogue: one particularly cringe-worthy exchange has Stallone proclaim, “Do I sound like a broken record,” only to be corrected by Kang that “they don’t even make records anymore!” What an insight!

Meanwhile, the performances are pretty blasé, with perhaps the exception of Jason Momoa as the muscled thug with an ulterior agenda. Yet the action is just frequent enough, and the punches just brutally realistic enough, that it might be worth watching—so long as you are really, really craving a throwback action movie and/or feel a crippling need to support your local movie theatre.

Also, that axe fight? It’s damn exciting. And the film is a mercifully short 91 minutes. So, in the words of Bill Murray, it’s got that going for it.