Director Walter Hill, whose resume includes hits like 48 Hours and The Warriors but who hasn’t directed a feature film since Undisputed in 2002, says that one of the things that attracted him to Bullet to the Head is that the action and characterization that exist within the world of the film are believable.
“It’s a hard thing to talk about in the sense that the overall, surrounding world of the thing is totally non-realistic,” Hill said of the film. “This is a real ‘once upon a time’ situation. but the characterization within the ‘once upon a time’ situation is pretty straightforward and realistic and the action is meant to be…crunchy.”
He added that the kind of film he’s making is the type that both he and the film’s star Sylvester Stallone cut their teeth on, but which is uncommon in today’s cinema marketplace.
“I think we’ve moved to a new phase, now,” Hill said. “Obviously the most popular action films are elements of science fiction and comic books now, and they use exaggerated special effects in comparison to the old days but I think also the whole approach to character is very different. The good people in the modern action movie are very, very good. They’re very, very nice and the bad people are very, very wicked and there’s a kind of comic book sensibility that is very popular, that people like and have fun with now; the older action films of the ’70s and ’80s tend to be people more in distress and darker personalities. Lee Marvin or Charlie Bronson or…these are more brooding sensibilities than you usually see nowadays.”
While Bullet to the Head is actually based on a Belgian graphic novel, Hill’s description of “comic book sensibility” is a common shorthand for the kinds of moral dichotomies that you see in mainstream superhero comics, where morality is often black-and-white–certainly that’s true for the Silver Age comics most people are familiar with and the films that come out largely based on those stories.
You can check out the full interview below. Bullet to the Head opens Friday.