Religious-themed movies have become more common in the last few years, but usually in more subtle ways and not beating you over the head with religion being the main theme. God is a Bullet seems to be one of these movies. However, religion takes a back seat, to the point it’s almost non-existent.
God is a Bullet exhibits some potential in its storytelling, but its execution leaves much to be desired. It’s gritty and violent and tries to show the underbelly of the Satanic lifestyle. Unfortunately, it blurs the lines so much, that it comes off as any other portrayal of drugs, sex, and alcohol in one of the scummy ghettos of life.
A supposed cult, led by Cyrus (Karl Glusman) breaks into a house, kidnapping the daughter (Chloe Guy) of a police officer, Bob Hightower (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The investigation goes nowhere, with no leads. Even though a knife was left behind and a tarot card, that’s never spoken about again.
Bob learns of a girl named Case (Maika Monroe) that left the cult, she was taken much like his daughter. Case agrees to help Bob find the cult and hopefully save his daughter, before either being brainwashed or killed. The two then set off in an uneasy partnership.
I would say the acting is one of the stronger aspects of the movie, but it’s a victim of the writing. The biggest problem is the poorly executed dialogue. Monroe and Coster-Waldau both do a good job with what they are given, but it’s not great. The dialogue hampers any chemistry between the two.
The two contrast each other, with him being a typical upright Christian and her basically having no belief system anymore, after years of being in the “Satanic cult.” I use quotes, because it never feels like a cult and definitely doesn’t come off Satanic. They’re Satanists only in the fact they have tattoos portraying them as such.
The cult in God is a Bullet comes off more as a stereotypical Hollywood version of skinheads. In fact, I don’t remember one time Satan is brought up. They apparently have no set place; roaming around, drinking and doing drugs. The Satanic religious part is as non-existent as the Christianity. This begs the question, why did they include it? The movie could’ve kept everything the same, leaving out religion, having it simply be human traffickers kidnapping kids and selling them.
I assume that was too bare bones and so the religious part was put in, trying to make it different. There’s also some semblance of trying to show similarities and contrasts between typical Christianity and cultish Satanists. Regrettably, it’s done weakly through the writing. Most of it is exposition dumps by Case. The rest through some replies from Bob. It feels unnatural.
God is a Bullet can be a straightforward revenge flick with lots of violence and because of that, I did find myself enjoying it overall. That side of it is fascinating to see play out. The dialogue is weak, but some scenes are masterfully done.
Case takes Bob to be tatted up, because he can’t infiltrate the cult looking like some typical white guy, he’ll end up sticking out like a… typical white guy. So The Ferryman (Jamie Foxx) gives him some tattoos on his chest and arm, meanwhile Case personally gives Bob a little spider tattoo on his face. The Ferryman is basically in a neutral position, assumingly a gun runner of sorts. He’s basically used as a deus ex machina.
None of this ends up mattering. From the outset, he’s known to be an outsider, a “sheep” if you will. Bob could’ve not gotten tattoos and nothing would’ve changed. There was no reason for it. Scenes like this make it feel like God is a Bullet had multiple writers, but there’s only one and he also directed the movie, Nick Cassavetes.
There are some really strong scenes. One that stands out is Case first deciding she wants to leave the cult. In a store, thinking she sees her mother shopping. It plays out fantastically and is arguably the best scene in the movie. If every scene could’ve been this good, God is a Bullet would be a candidate for best of the year, but the good scenes in the movie are weighed down by everything else.
God is a Bullet is a pretty decent movie overall. The acting is good, but could be better, the violence is bloody and adds perfectly to the gritty tone that it looks for. The religious aspect should’ve been more pronounced, for both Christianity and Satanic worship, the latter barely being there at all.
It seems like God is a Bullet set out to be a classic like Hardcore. It’s a stylish movie and it has good substance too, but the screenplay could’ve used another draft or two. It’s definitely worth checking out though.
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