Bullet Proof (2022) Review
I’m not quite sure which is the least imaginative, calling an action film Bullet Proof or casting Vinne Jones (I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, Escape Plan) as a psychotically violent criminal. James Clayton went with both in his directorial debut, and that should have sent up more red flags than a text message from an ex.
Bullet Proof opens in a scrapyard as some goons are executing what I presume are rival goons. While they’re doing that, The Thief (James Clayton, Residue, A.M.I.) slips in and helps himself to stacks of cash that are just sitting there unguarded. His exit is a little more complicated, and he ends up fleeing in a car that has Mia (Lina Lecompte, Motherland: Fort Salem, Monster High: The Movie) the pregnant wife of Temple (Vinnie Jones) the man he just ripped off, hidden in the trunk.
Writers Cooper Bibaud and Danny Mac, who previously collaborated on Love/Hate and Heel Kick, stuff Bullet Proof’s opening full of action. Unfortunately, they also stuff it full of unlikely plot devices, such as the money just laying there waiting to be taken or The Thief cranking the radio in his getaway car so all of Temple’s men will know he’s there.
We also get more clichés, from guns that jam at all the wrong times to the bickering between Mia and her unintentional rescuer. Of course, the bickering doesn’t stop him from coming back after he initially leaves her at the side of the road and again at a motel. It’s like they tried to reconstruct an old-school chase film by assembling the genre’s most overused elements.
What Bullet Proof does have going for it is a fast pace and, for a low-budget film, a good deal of action, some of it quite well staged. Relative newcomer Janvier Katabarwa, who plays The Frenchman, Temple’s chief enforcer, has an imposing appearance and displays some excellent moves that elevate his fight scenes above the rest of the film.
On the other hand, top-billed Vinnie Jones doesn’t have much in the way of screen time. He also seems to be showing his age, needing the help of a set of brass knuckles, rather than his bare fists, to beat someone to death. Lecompte at least manages to show some spark as his runaway bride and makes Mia a bit more than the standard tough woman.
Three of Bullet Proof’s “creative” team appear in the film, Clayton is bland as The Thief, a role he hopes will make the viewer think of Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious franchise. Writer Danny Mac is equally dull as Skinny, Temple’s resident torturer, his co-writer Cooper Bibaud turns up to Sketch one of the meth addicts who briefly hold the pair captive at a clinic.
Bullet Proof had some potential and does deliver a couple of good fights and acceptable car chases. But a script that relies on coincidences as unbelievable as The Frenchman killing a pair of cops and no sooner getting into their car than a report of a suspicious person tells him where the protagonists are, drags it down.
Maybe if any of the film’s characters had some backstory or a reason to care about them, it could have overcome that, but as it stands Bullet Proof is as generic as its title and just barely acceptable if you need an action fix and aren’t feeling too fussy about how you get it.
Lionsgate will release Bullet Proof in select theatres as well as to VOD and Digital platforms on August 19th. The film will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD on September 27th. If you’re looking for something similar but hopefully better, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.