In The Wrestler Mickey Rourke complained: “I’ll tell you somethin’, I hate the fuckin’ 90’s. Fuckin’ 90’s sucked.” And it’s not hard to see how this reflected Mickey’s career in the 90’s in which everything he performed in seemed to be destined to fail. His most high profile roles were the bad guy in a Jean Claude van Damme movie (Double Team) at the time JC himself was losing grip of his A-list status and The Rainmaker in which he only had a supporting role. Bullet is one of those movies that failed. Made in 1994 it was released in 1996 just a month after the death of Tupac Shakur who plays the villain in this movie. And even with a high profile death it got a limited theatrical release before it went to video. I wonder if it would’ve been released at all if Tupac wasn’t in it. But other than that I wonder why a movie like this is being shelved for such a long time as it’s certainly not a complete crapfest…
But it isn’t a brilliant movie either. When it was over I was wondering what I’ve just seen and if I was actually interested in seeing it. The movie is about Butch “Bullet” Stein who gets released from prison after doing 8 years. Within a couple of hours he jabs a thugs eye out with a knife, forces two teenage punks to undress themselves after which he throws their clothes of a building and shoots up drugs. That’s all before he even said hi to his parents. So this movie is basically about a junkie having a beef with a gangster.
The movie, with a protagonist you don’t care the least about, is a gritty tale about a junkie who fall back in his old patterns after being released from prison. He’s surrounded by a couple of eccentric people: His brother Rudy, an esteemed artist played by Adrien Brody who does graffiti. His mentally-ill brother Louis played by Ted Levine. He thinks he’s still in the army. And there’s his best friend Lester who’s really muscled and good-looking but also walks around in shiny zebra patterned underwear and seems to be in love with himself. You guessed it, he’s a latent homosexual. Come to think of it, the whole movie consists of homosexual undertones: Butch forces two teenagers to take their clothes off and jokingly threatens to rape them. He can’t get it up after picking up a chick from a bar. Sure that might be because of the heroin but it’s probably also a metaphor for him also being possibly gay. Another “weird” scene is when we see Butch wake up after a trip and we see Lester in his zebra panties admiring himself in the mirror. I was going like: did they do something together that we did not see? Dialogue explains that they didn’t but still, it was a very confusing scene. Lester might be a latent homosexual as Butch points out, I’m getting the feeling he should start pointing at himself too.
Tupac’s role is too simply function as the antagonist of the movie. he does nothing more than show up after every 5 scenes in his limousine with his puffy beret and his eye patch talking about how he’s going to kill off Butch. For someone who was applauded for his acting skills in movies like Juice and Poetic Justice he really hams it up here in what is nothing more than an extended cameo. He might be full on the DVD cover but he isn’t the star of the show.
The movie quickly loses focus of what it wants to be. It wants to be a character study about a junkie, but it also wants to be a crime-movie. It gives us too much quirky characters (the entire family Stein) for us to even remotely care about Rourke’s character. Not that he is worth caring for as a junkie who threw his life away and who does no good deed once released from prison. The movie itself looks fine and I really was under the impression of some of the graffiti pieces that were shown. It’s just that the movie is too grim and has too many defected-characters.