‘GOD is a Bullet’ is an action-revenge drama based on the 1999 novel by Boston Teran, which is in turn said to be based on a true story. It is written and directed by Nick Cassavetes whose best known work is the 2004 tearjerker, “The Notebook”.
His last film was “The Other Woman” in 2014 starring Cameron Diaz. After nine years, he now makes a comeback in “God is a Bullet” on Prime Video. The movie starts with a pre-teen girl being kidnapped while waiting for her mom in front of a supermarket.
In the next scene, we see the thugs who kidnapped her getting inside a private home and kidnapping another girl, a teenager this time, and also mercilessly killing her mother. And this occurs right on Christmas Day.
The girl, Gabi (Chloe Guy), happens to be the daughter of a cop, Bob Hightower (Nicolaj Coster Waldau. best known for “Game of Thrones”) who is already separated from the girl’s mom.
Weeks pass and there is no lead on the case, so Bob accepts the help of a young woman who claims that she knows where the bad guys took his daughter.
This is Case Hardin (Maika Monroe) and she turns out to be the first girl shown being kidnapped at the start of the movie. She now wants to get back at the cult for what they did to her.
Bob is a cop who is just assigned inside their office, so his boss tries to discourage him from taking the law into his own hands as he is not really trained for it.
But he says he is slowly dying inside and needs closure, so he’ll do everything to get his daughter back from her kidnappers who happen to be heartless members of a satanic cult.
Bob and Case then team up in a dangerous mission to rescue his daughter and put an end on the vicious cult leader, Cyrus (Karl Glusman), who truly deserves to be punished severely for all his brutality against women.
Case orients Bob on how to infiltrate the cult’s nihilistic world. First, he has to get tattoos, just like her, as this is a trademark of the cult members. In flashbacks, we get a glimpse of Case’s traumatic experiences in the cruel hands of the misogynistic Cyrus.
They seek help from the Ferryman (Jamie Foxx, also heavily tattooed), who has only one arm and has a case of vitiligo, to put the tattoos all over Bob’s body, including his face. That’s how determined Bob is to get back his daughter.
For starters, they have violent encounters with different members of the cult who are the henchemen of Cyrus. The bloodshed is just an appetizer for the final showdown with Cyrus and his entire gang, with only the two of Bob and Case fighting against them. This is executed while bright colorful fireworks erupt in the night sky.
Those who love puke-inducing violence and stomach-churning brutality will no doubt get a big kick in watching this movie which is just full of exploitative blood and gore. But despite all such adrenaline-charged scenes, there are just too many boring stretches that need tighter editing to make the pacing faster.
It’s just too tedious to watch at more than two hours and can be a test of patience, when the story is really just a straightforward one about a driven cop who simply wants to save his daughter from her captors.
Honestly, despite the lengthy running time, the story feels so underdeveloped, specially its main villain. Karl Glusman is not credible as the cult leader Cyrus. He is heavily inked, looks repulsive, and has such a short fuse specially with the way he treats women.
But it’s hard to believe that his henchmen, who are much bigger and more ferocious looking than him (he looks so puny), will easily bow down to all his whims and obey all his orders so easily, no matter how stupid they might be.
How he became the leader of the cult and yet, what exactly the cult does, is not really made clear. So despite the film’s lengthy running time, a lot of things seem to remain unexplained. If God is a bullet as the title implies, then the bullet here does not whiz fast enough.
In all fairness to the leads, they’re both totally committed to their roles. Nicolaj has much natural charm and charisma that work for him in both the drama and action scenes. But he’s not very careful in choosing his projects after “Game of Thrones” as most of them, like “Shot Caller” and “Against the Ice” are duds.
But even more amazing is Maika Monroe (best know for “It Follows” and “Watcher”) who plays her role with the right shade of detached aloofness combined with a touching pathos and a never-say-die will to survive. Her final encounter with Cyrus is so satisfyingly cathartic to watch.
Together, Bob and Case make for an engaging pair of mismatched protagonists that seem to be worth rooting for as they venture together into hell, while we hear the music of David Bowie and Bob Dylan being played on the soundtrack. We just wish the movie is really more engaging to watch.