REVIEW: “9 Bullets” (2022)

Lena Headey plays a recently retired burlesque dancer named (yikes) Gypsy. She’s spent years dancing in a hole-in-the-wall club and now all she wants to do is finish writing her book and take a cruise (I know, just go with it). But her blissful retirement hits a snag after she finds herself in the middle of hilariously hokey crime boss and his hunt for a young boy.

Written and directed by Gigi Gaston, “9 Bullets” can best be described as a movie full of pieces that don’t fit. None of the emotions feel sincere, and the characters are so constricted by formula that they barely seem human. It’s a movie of ideas, and some of them are well-meaning. But “9 Bullets” ends up needing far more than good intentions to make us connect with what we’re given.

I’ll give it to Headey, she really commits to her character. But with dialogue this bad and plotting this terrible, it would be impossible for anyone to make Gypsy or her story compelling. It’s made even worse by the glaringly phony central relationship between Gypsy and a young kid named Sam (Dean Scott Vazquez). The movie heavily relies on the overused ‘sweet kid meets a hard-boiled adult’ trope, dumbing it down and leaving us with nothing to latch onto. And no amount of schmaltzy music can make us care.

The scattershot story sees Gypsy and Alex crossing paths after the boy witnesses his family gunned down by the henchmen of a redneck crime boss named Jack (Sam Worthington). It turns out Alex‘s dad swindled some money from Jack. And of course the penalty is execution, not just of him but women and children as well. But when Jack’s laughably dumb thugs realize they missed Alex, they set out to hunt the boy down.

Thankfully Alex is taken in by Gypsy who has this opaque and barely defined past connection with Jack and his gang. We learn Gypsy and Jack were once an item, and their relationship might have been worth exploring. Instead Jack is yet another cookie-cutter toxic slug. Except here he’s also a licorice-munching psychopath who will travel all over the American West to murder the child and his dog. And that’s basically what the movie becomes – a bland cat-and-mouse thriller full of silly, implausible twists as Gypsy and Alex run for their lives.

Of course, Gaston’s intent is much different. She wants this to be about two lost souls running from their pasts and finding a future together. But it’s so hard to take them seriously, especially when they’re forced to utter such cornball lines as “You better let someone love you before it’s too late.” or “I want someone to love me.” My favorite may be Worthington saying with a straight face “Do I look like a rabbit?”

These are only some of the film’s problems. There’s a shameless sex scene that’s shot in a way that’s completely inconsistent with the story. There’s a final act music montage that’s one of the corniest things I’ve seen in years. And then you have the ending itself which is utterly preposterous. I’m guessing it (somehow) looked a lot better on paper. Actually, you could probably say that about the movie as a whole. “9 Bullets” is streaming now on Hulu and is available on VOD.

VERDICT – 1 STAR

7 thoughts on “REVIEW: “9 Bullets” (2022)

  1. I love this part of your review: “Instead Jack is yet another cookie-cutter toxic slug. Except here he’s also a licorice-munching psychopath who will travel all over the American West to murder the child and his dog.” And that “You’d better let somebody love you before it’s too late.” is a direct lift from The Eagles song, “Desperado”! I fear Lena is a one-trick pony, or nobody is giving her a chance to prove otherwise. I’m disappointed in Sam for agreeing to be in this one.

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