9 Bullets Review: Actioner Is A Bewildering Misfire Unworthy Of Lena Headey

Lena Headey and Dean Scott Vazquez in 9 Bullets

Imagine someone is at the shooting range and is about to go through a section of targets that are not less than a foot away. The bullseye is so clear and visible that it would be an absolute embarrassment to miss it. The shot, or nine, is taken and the target is missed after each shot. It is 9 balls in a word. Written and directed by Gigi Gaston, 9 balls is a tough watch from start to finish despite Lena Headey doing her best to elevate the image to something passable.

The film follows badass – and misnamed – Gypsy (Headey), a burlesque dancer who writes memoirs. She’s about to embark on a new journey of self-discovery and change when a friend, Ralph (Zachary Mooren), calls one night in a panic because he and his family are in danger. Ralph has stolen an iPad containing bank codes, which put him in the crosshairs of a gang leader named Jack (Sam Worthington). Jack, a career criminal who threatens to shoot helpless dogs, happens to be Gypsy’s sadistic ex. Now, Gypsy and Ralph’s son, Sam (Dean Scott Vazquez), must flee from Jack’s men who pursue them relentlessly.

Lena Headey and Dean Scott Vazquez in 9 Bullets

9 balls opens with a bizarre, inconsistent setup that’s both ridiculously bad and also explains what to expect from the rest of the movie. It opens with melancholic shots of a woman on her porch reminiscing as she looks inside a keepsake box. Headey’s Gypsy rolls her eyes declaring she’s not going to “f*ck it up” before the film cuts her scenes during her final burlesque show. Without any setup, Ralph frantically calls his young son and tells him there is an emergency and he needs to run. Ralph’s wife and, presumably, his stepmother are shot in their vehicle as Ralph makes another call to Gypsy to help his son and arrest Jack. The editing and framing of this entire sequence is done so haphazardly that one can only assume that the production of the film was rushed. Believing this to be an intentional project would make it all the more upsetting.

The film tries to have a heartfelt tale of two broken souls coming together to create their own found family, but it’s wrapped up in a convoluted mess of a plot that largely lacks a clear vision. Gypsy faces a lot, namely being entangled in the threat that is Jack. Forgetting the obvious coincidence that Sam and Gypsy are neighbors, the film is at its best when it focuses on the two and their paint-by-numbers story. It’s the elements surrounding their situation that blur the project and leave audiences confused as to what they’re supposed to be watching.

Lena Headey in 9 Bullets

Sam Worthington’s lackluster performance puts even more pressure on the project. The actor’s talent and skill are underwhelming, and when paired with Headey who, whatever the project, elevates the material, Worthington’s shortcomings are more strongly illuminated. Also, the story about Gypsy and Jack is its own movie and 9 balls would have been better if Gypsy got in trouble without the child. An action drama about a woman coming out of a toxic relationship by the skin of her teeth would have been much more appropriate.

On paper, 9 balls has an interesting tale about a woman who is not just trying to move on from her past, but rather trying to come to terms with it. Contrasting sweet and lovable bonding moments between Gypsy and Sam with scenes that reflect her toxic past with Jack paints a full picture of her complexities, but the film’s execution undermines all about it. There’s poor handling of darker themes and scenes that make them ridiculously awkward when they appear. Poor acting, heavy cinematography, an uneven script, and jerky editing are just the tip of the iceberg of the problems present throughout. At the end, 9 balls is a confusing adventure that misses so badly and is not worth watching.

9 balls out in theaters and on demand on Friday, April 22. The film is 100 minutes long and is unrated.

Our assessment:

1 out of 5 (poor)


More information about 9 Bullets Review: Actioner Is A Bewildering Misfire Unworthy Of Lena Headey

Lena Headey and Dean Scott Vazquez in 9 Bullets

Imagine someone is at the shooting range and is about to go through a section of targets that are no less than one foot away. The bullseye is so clear and visible that it would be an absolute embarrassment if one missed it. The shot, or nine, is taken and the bullseye is missed after every single shot. That is 9 Bullets in a nutshell. Written and directed by Gigi Gaston, 9 Bullets is a tough watch from beginning to end despite Lena Headey putting in her best effort to elevate the picture to something passable.
The film follows the tough-as-nails — and poorly named — Gypsy (Headey), a burlesque dancer who is writing a memoir. She is about to embark on a new journey of self-discovery and change when a friend, Ralph (Zachary Mooren), calls one night in a panic because he and his family are in danger. Ralph has stolen an iPad containing bank codes, which have put him in the crosshairs of a gang leader named Jack (Sam Worthington). Jack, a career criminal who threatens to shoot defenseless dogs, happens to be Gypsy’s sadistic ex. Now, Gypsy and Ralph’s son Sam (Dean Scott Vazquez) must flee from Jack’s men who pursue them relentlessly.
Lena Headey and Dean Scott Vazquez in 9 Bullets
9 Bullets opens with a bizarre and incoherent set-up that is both laughably bad and also spells out what to expect from the rest of the film. It opens with wistful shots of a woman on her porch reminiscing as she looks inside a box of memories. Headey’s Gypsy looks up to the sky declaring she won’t “f*ck it up” before the film cuts to her scenes at her final burlesque show.  Without any setup, Ralph frantically calls his young son and tells him there is an emergency and that he needs to run. Ralph’s wife and, presumably, his mother-in-law are shot dead in their vehicle as Ralph makes another call to Gypsy to help his son and stop Jack. The editing and framing of this entire sequence are done so haphazardly that it can only be assumed the film’s production was rushed. Believing this is an intentionally made project would make it all the more upsetting.
The film attempts to have the heartfelt narrative of two broken souls coming together to make their own found family, but it is wrapped in a convoluted mess of a plot that is largely missing a clear vision. Gypsy is dealing with a lot — namely, being entangled with the menace that is Jack. Overlooking the obvious coincidence of Sam and Gypsy being neighbors, the film is at its best when it does focus on the two and their paint-by-numbers story. It is the elements that surround their circumstances that muddle the project and leave the audience befuddled about what it is they are meant to be watching.
Lena Headey in 9 Bullets
Putting further strain on the project is the lackluster performance from Sam Worthington. The actor’s talent and skill are underwhelming and, when paired with the likes of Headey who, no matter the project, elevates the material, Worthington’s shortcomings are more heavily illuminated. Furthermore, the narrative regarding Gypsy and Jack is its own movie and 9 Bullets would have been better off if Gypsy were in trouble sans the kid. An action-drama about a woman exiting a toxic relationship by the skin of her teeth would have been far more befitting.
On paper, 9 Bullets has an interesting narrative about a woman who isn’t just trying to outrun her past but instead tries to come to terms with it. Contrasting the sweet, lovable bonding moments between Gypsy and Sam with scenes that reflect her toxic past with Jack creates a full picture of her complexities, but the film’s execution undermines everything about it. There is a mishandling of the darker themes and scenes that make them laughably awkward when they appear. Subpar acting, muggy cinematography, an uneven script, and choppy editing are merely the tip of the iceberg of issues present throughout. In the end, 9 Bullets is a bewildering adventure that misfires so badly and is not worth the watch.
9 Bullets released in theaters and on-demand Friday, April 22. The film is 100 minutes long and is not rated.

Our Rating:
1 out of 5 (Poor)

#Bullets #Review #Actioner #Bewildering #Misfire #Unworthy #Lena #Headey


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