Its like when I did The Warriors, he says of the 1979 film that spawned gang fights and shootings inside theaters. I wasnt trying to romanticize gangs. But people often see gangs as terrorist wolfpacks who are loose in the city and quite often do terrible things. But if you really examine the gang psychology, theyre almost all defensive organizations who have come together because they perceive themselves to be in danger by the world around them. So they come together for their own personal safety and form a bond, a family.
Although its tone is not as comedic as, say, 48 Hrs., Bullet to the Head still mines humor from the odd-couple pairing of its two heroes. Also true to Hills intent of paying homage to the 1980s buddy-cop genre is the movies clean style and clearly choreographed action: The editing is as smooth and pleasurable as it was in the musical numbers of Streets of Fire, which bombed in the summer of 1984 but has since garnered a passionate fan base.
The endings of this kind of movie are, in a sense, a given, Hill says. The fun is getting there. I think of the good guys and bad guys almost doing a little dance. These movies are all musicals, in a way. And also westerns, of course, because the characters are forced to use violence when civility and traditional society dont work.
Bullet to the Head, which cost a reported $41 million, isnt a guaranteed hit. The Last Stand, which featured Arnold Schwarzeneggers first leading performance since leaving office, opened with an anemic $6 million weekend, and outside of the Expendables series, Stallone hasnt had a hit in years. The film also arrives in theaters nearly a year since its original release date, usually a sign of trouble.
But Hill isnt fretting about how the movie will fare or whether this was a temporary reprieve from Hollywood jail.
There were several movies I tried to make over the last 10 years, but the financing evaporated, he says of his absence from the screen. I think its fair to say Im not wildly in demand by the studios. The independent cinema thats beyond the studios is usually perceived to be a young persons game. I did a miniseries, shot a couple of TV pilots, tried to keep my hand in things. But most directors dont work much once theyre past 60. Now Im not so sure. There are exceptions, but very few. I never officially quit. But I worked very hard in the 1980s and 90s, we have two daughters and I wanted to be closer to my family. Im just not pushing nearly as hard anymore.