God Is a Bullet
June 19th, 2023
MOVIE: GOD IS A BULLET
STARRING: NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU, MAIKA MONROE, JAMIE FOXX, KARL GLUSMAN, JANUARY JONES
DIRECTED BY: NICK CASSAVETES
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
When a movie is grimy and gritty, it tends to be something that I gravitate to, something that feels like a risk. God Is a Bullet is certainly coated with blood and sweat but it’s not getting the risk part right, in fact, a majority of it feels calculated, as if to say, “Hey everyone, come see how edgy we are!” I’m a major fan of The Counselor for Christ’s sake, so having a story about violent people doesn’t bother me, but Nick Cassavetes’ sweaty adaptation of the book by Boston Teran lacks anything to care about. God Is a Bullet has a terrible aim, missing the mark with every shot, and introducing us to a world you don’t want anything to do with.
The lead character is Detective Bob Hightower (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a police officer that does it all by the book, while others around him might succumb to bribery. He awakes to the news that his ex-wife and her husband have been raped and murdered. While his daughter has been kidnapped by the same gang, led by Cyrus (Karl Glusman) a ruthless and brain-washing leader. He is followed by a collection of men and women with nasty-looking tattoos from head to toe. The only person to escape the group is Case Hardin (Maika Monroe), a former member that was abducted as a child and now she wants to help Bob find his daughter. The goal will be to survive an attempt to rescue Bob’s daughter and take down this sadistic cult in the process.
From a narrative standpoint, Cassavetes has an idea of what this story should look like, which is dark and bleak. It also has bursts of great violence, where shotgun blasts tear off limbs, and each member of the cult is void of any sense of self-care. Luckily for Cassavetes, his two leads in Coster-Waldau and Monroe do their best to ground their characters. Their relationship begins at a place of distrust and quickly becomes of mutual empathy. Hightower wants to save his child and Case understands that she herself was in that very position. Sadly though, it’s the violent opening and climax that have any real moments of purpose.
At two hours and thirty-five minutes, God Is a Bullet fails to ever reel the audience in with drama that thrills or even fascinates. Unlike The Counselor, the dialogue is mundane and lacking in having a poetic beat. On top of the stagnant conversations, the supporting cast is rife with characters that provide little to the story. Jamie Foxx’s Ferryman becomes a middleman between the cult and the cop. His character is distinguished by his condition of Vitiligo and his offering words of wisdom to Case on her escape. The other character of significance in January Jones is a selfish housewife to one of the police officers and surprisingly she has something to do with the kidnapping. Surprisingly the only person that might leave a mark is Glusman, which is only because his character is such a sadistic asshole.
There may be an argument to be made that God Is a Bullet might be better on a second viewing or worth a revised study. Cassavetes is attempting his Natural Born Killers, Joker, or Brawl in Cell Block 99. For me, it just felt too soulless. It’s lacking in a sense of place, messaging, and real purpose. It may be one of those situations where the book works better than the movie. Either way, God Is a Bullet is loaded but it’s only firing blanks.
GOD IS A BULLET IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS FRIDAY JUNE 23RD, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady