Written by: Matt Patti | April 21st, 2022
9 Bullets (Gigi Gaston, 2022) 2 out of 4 stars.
There are plenty of films out there that involve a mean, tough adult figure caring for a young child. At first, the adult and kid can’t stand each other; neither wants the other around. However, through adventures and bonding, the two form a positive relationship and, by the end of the film, end up as best buddies. Most of these films involve a strong, grumpy man and a sweet little girl as the lead characters. In director Gigi Gaston’s 9 Bullets, though, it is the inverse: a rough-and-tumble woman has to care for a young boy. An intriguing, refreshing take, the film plays out like the typical movies of this type, but it unfortunately can’t quite overcome the stupidity displayed by its supporting characters.
In the film, Gypsy (Lena Headey, The Flood), a burlesque dancer trying to lead a new life, gets a call from her next-door neighbor, pleading for her to take care of his son Sam (Dean Scott Vazquez, In the Heights). Sam is in grave danger, his father having just crossed a major crime boss named Jack (Sam Worthington, The Last Son), who also happens to be Gypsy’s ex-husband. Gypsy agrees to help the boy after his father, and the rest of his family, are murdered by Jack’s henchmen. Now on the run from Jack and his goons, Gypsy must put her dreams for a fresh life on hold and learn to be a protective guardian in order to save Sam’s life.
Lena Headey turns in a solid, grounded performance as Gypsy, a woman quite easy to root for and a very complex, layered character. Though she is a bit rough around the edges and uptight, she is very intelligent, protective, and has her soft spots. Sadly, the other characters in the film don’t match up very well with her. Sam is a fine child companion character, though Vazquez does produce often bland, monotone lines. However, Sam seems to get over his family’s death far too quickly and is much too cheery throughout the film for someone whose entire family has just been brutally murdered.
Jack is a so-so villain, with not much to note, but his henchmen are horrid. There are stereotypically dumb henchmen … and then there are these dunderheads. On multiple occasions when confronting Gypsy and attempting to find Sam, they don’t fully complete their search and miss Sam when he is right beneath their eyes. There are other additional characters who make very questionable decisions and act in the complete opposite way that most people would act during certain situations. Gypsy is easily able to outsmart every character around her and this makes her seem even more brilliant, though the audience has to question: is she really that crafty, or are those she’s up against just that utterly stupid?
The bond between Gypsy and Sam is decent, and the two share some heartwarming moments. On the other hand, their relationship sways back and forth between a loving bond and the two screaming at each other in rage far too often and much too quickly, leaving the viewer exhausted. The conclusion of the film is quite predictable but still satisfying. In the end, Lena Headey’s performance and the development of her character Gypsy are the highlights of 9 Bullets, but she, along with the film itself, is weighed down by the poor writing.