‘9 Bullets’ (2022) Review: Crime Drama Backfires due to Lack of Tension

Nuha Hassan reviews 9 Bullets, a crime drama that has the potential to be an interesting, but leaves audiences disappointed.

‘9 Bullets’ (2022) Review: Crime Drama Backfires due to Lack of Tension
Dean Scott Vazquez as Sam (left) and Lena Heady as Gypsy (right) in 9 Bullets

Gigi Gaston’s 9 Bullets contrives a road trip and murder, both of which backfire due to the lack of tension in the film. The movie stars Lena Headey, best known for her role as Cersei Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones, playing a former burlesque dancer who gets mixed up in a complicated situation.  The film hinges on themes of motherhood and trauma, but fails to meaningfully interact with those themes or hold the audience’s interest. 9 Bullets has the potential to be an interesting drama with a crime boss and murder all wrapped into one, but it leaves audiences disappointed.

Gypsy (Headey) hopes to turn her life around after retiring from her former job as a burlesque dancer. She has a shot to redeem herself and begins to write a book about her experiences. However, her life is turned upside down when she discovers a young boy Sam (Dean Scott Vazquez) hiding in her home. She learns that he witnessed his family’s murder and is in possession of a worthy item that her longtime ex and local crime boss Jack (Sam Worthington) desperately needs. Gypsy plans to drop him off with his uncle but Dean is hesitant to leave and she realises that the boy will never be safe if Jack is looking for him. Together, Gypsy and Dean are on the run and she risks her life to keep the boy safe, no matter what the cost.

9 Bullets attempts to reach the audience through the newfound relationship between Gypsy and Dean. At first, Gypsy is reluctant to save Dean’s life because she doesn’t want to get mixed up in Jack’s business. As these two characters interact, the audience gets a sense of why Gypsy doesn’t want to get too close to Dean. He reminds her of someone that she lost in the past, so she keeps boundaries to not get too close to him. Gypsy’s internal conflict is the most compelling aspect of the film. In a scene where Dean asks Gypsy to tell him a bedtime story, she lays down on the couch next to him and tries to maintain physical distance but he pulls her towards him. The audience sees a slight discomfort on her face but eventually, she gives in. Despite her hard attitude towards Dean, she does care about him. The script of 9 Bullets limits Headey, who played one of the most complex characters on Game of Thrones. She works with what she is given, but the screenplay still doesn’t provide a strong emotional connection between Gypsy and Dean, which makes her performance seem quite lacklustre.

9 Bullets is a frustrating watch, and if the script had been stronger perhaps this movie would have worked fine. Headey and Worthington have no on-screen chemistry so their relationship, which is meant to be erotic and dangerous, feels awkward. It’s infuriating to see Headey’s involvement in this film when she has the potential to be cast in exceptional roles due to her work on Game of Thrones. 9 Bullets doesn’t have bullets that are enough to wield and threaten the lives of the characters in this movie.