'God Is a Bullet' Review: Jamie Foxx and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Nick Cassavetes' Thriller Brutal — and Brutally Silly —

‘God Is a Bullet’ Review: Jamie Foxx and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Nick Cassavetes’ Thriller Brutal — and Brutally Silly —

Revenge thrillers tend to be most effective when they’re lean and mean. That’s definitely not the case with writer-director Nick Cassavetes’ new film, his first since 2014. The other woman. Based on Boston Teran’s well-received 1999 novel, God is a bullet squanders its provocative premise with a ridiculously bloated running time (155 minutes, and you feel it all) and gratuitous violence that lends a cartoonish sheen to a story that aspires to gritty reality. Despite its talented cast, who demonstrate a willingness to go all out in their performances, the film feels like a pretentious take on a Charles Bronson action flick from the 1980s.

Related stories

In fact, Bronson would have been perfect for the role of Detective Bob Hightower (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), whose ex-wife and her new husband are brutally murdered by members of a cult he appears to have witnessed The hills Have Eyes too many times. In the opening scene he seems intent on going through the similar sequence in Death wish in his brutality, and succeeds easily, the deranged, heavily tattooed psychopaths also kidnap Hightower’s teenage daughter (Chloe Guy).

God is a bullet

The bottom line

He shoots himself in the foot.

Release date: Friday 23 June
Launch: Maika Monroe, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Karl Glusman, January Jones, Paul Johansson, David Thornton, Jamie Foxx, Ethan Suplee
Director-writer: Nick Cassavetes

2 hours 35 minutes

Thwarted in his efforts to investigate the murders and track down his daughter by his department supervisor John Lee (Paul Johansson) for reasons revealed later in the story, Hightower finds an unlikely ally in reformed drug addict Case (Maika Monroe, Observer), one of the past members of the cult who managed to escape the clutches of its maniacal leader Cyrus (Karl Glusman, looking the part very convincingly). With his help and the addition of many tattoos to make it more convincing (but only a small and discreet one on the face, so as not to spoil the actor’s star look), Hightower manages to infiltrate the cult, which also includes the eerily stoic one-armed figure known as “The Ferryman” (Jamie Foxx, letting his imposing physical presence make up for his lack of significant screen time).

The hard-boiled Case and the honest Hightower are strange bedfellows as they attempt to find out what the cult has done to his daughter. “Forget it, Bob, you’re strictly the missionary position,” Case tells him at one point, and she’s not talking about sex. She also exhibits the kind of philosophical attitude expressed by bad movie characters when she raises a bullet and intones, “This is the ultimate life form, the great equalizer. This is God, coyote.

Of course, Hightower isn’t sloppy when it comes to ruggedness either. In the course of her travails, he repairs a severe stab wound to his torso using a stapler and manages to survive a rattlesnake bite and being set on fire (not simultaneously). Of course, the serpent had reason to be grumpy, since cult leader Cyrus crank-injected it and swung it over his head like a lasso.

No one would expect a film like this to be decent, but Cassavetes seems determined to smack excessive violence in our faces as if it were inflicting punishment. Cult members kill strangers and each other with the kind of abandon you’d expect in a snuff movie, and one bullet in a woman’s face isn’t enough when at least a dozen can be shot. Rather than seeming like a realistic depiction of the cult’s ultra-violent brand of anarchy, the literal overkill comes across as cinematic desperation.

The dialogue isn’t much better. When a villain gleefully informs a would-be victim, “You’re out of bullets, honey,” it doesn’t take an experienced film critic to figure out what happens next. And while it presumably stems from the source material, a convoluted subplot involving the adulterous wife of John Lee (January Jones, aiming for femme-fatale status) adds little to the story but excessive length.

God is a bullet it proves effective in commercials, thanks in large part to the efforts of its committed actors, who demonstrate a willingness to go full throttle in each hyperviolent sequence. And its arid desert locales certainly offer a suitably gritty vibe. But this exercise in brutal nihilism ultimately turns out to be as empty as the nonsensical philosophy that gives the film its title.