THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD
Director: Patrick Hughes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung
“Why are we always yelling?” This is a quote from Ryan Reynolds to Samuel L. Jackson’s character late in the movie. This pretty much sums up the entire movie. If you’re familiar with the roles Reynolds and Jackson are known for, that’s essentially what you get here with two hours of yelling. They make up the title pair with Jackson playing Darius Kincaid, a well-known hitman who has been sentenced to life behind bars. He becomes an important player in the trial of Belarus leader Vladislav Dukhovich (Oldman) who brought genocide into his country. Kincaid is the final star witness that could lead to Dukhovich’s sentencing. The key thing to note is that every witness brought forward until now has mysteriously wound up dead thanks to Dukhovich’s team of assassins. Kincaid’s transport to the trial veers completely off course due to a massive shootout. He manages to escape with Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Yung). The whole mission has been compromised leaving Amelia no option but to call her ex to help her out. That’s Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce who reluctantly decides to help and protect her client. If only it were that simple. When Bryce comes face to face with his new client, he realizes it’s his old frenemy Kincaid with whom he has a sordid past. Bryce and Kincaid are on the run in order to make it to the trial in one piece before they’re killed by Dukhovich’s henchmen.
The idea of pairing Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson sounds like a promising concept on paper. Both appear in the Marvel movies so there’s some geek fandom going in. They’re reliable at bringing their A-game brand of shenanigans to any role. Frankly, I think Jackson saves certain movies by playing into his image. See Kong: Skull Island for an example of this. I don’t know if The Hitman’s Bodyguard was written with both of them in mind or not. This is screenwriter Tom O’Connor’s first film since 2012’s Fire with Fire. I don’t remember that one either. If it wasn’t written for its two stars than they certainly did a lot of ad-libbing and writing on the spot.
It follows your standard action-comedy playbook using the buddy cop routine as its guide. Neither of them are cops, but Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is the by-the-books type trying to protect the wild and dangerous one (Jackson). Bryce’s go-to slogan is “boring is always best” with “mother fucker” and its derivatives being the choice phrase for Kincaid. It’s Jackson’s usual choice of profanity, which may turn off moviegoers that don’t like that kind of language or don’t get the joke. The movie relies heavily on the back and forth banter between the two of them which gets tiresome quickly. They spend two hours being on the run from one bad guy to the next. They’ll have a dust up and barely escape which leads to annoying dialogue and then it’s repeated all over again as they go on their merry way. The action comedy routine can’t just be watching a couple bicker for two hours.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard wants to be original and clever to utilize its stars. The promos make it seem all tongue in cheek almost riffing off the tactic used by Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool. This is far from that movie or any of Jackson’s classic characters he’s made with Quentin Tarantino. The script takes some very obvious choices, and there are no real surprises or twists along the way. To top it off the CGI is very evident in the action sequences. You can practically see Reynolds standing in front of the green screen at one point. Same goes for Jackson in his speed boat chase. The only breath of fresh air in this movie is Salma Hayek. She is a hoot as Kincaid’s wife who is also locked up behind bars. She’s the only one that is playing against type and appears to be modeled after one of the Real Housewives with her big hair and heavy makeup. You don’t want to mess with her. She’s a scene stealer in a small role. Her scenes work because it’s not over played to death like the rest of the movie.
I wish I could state that the end of the summer blockbuster season ends with a bang. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a no-brainer, mindless action flick hoping to appeal to fans of its two leads. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it could have at least tried a little bit harder. There were plenty of people who laughed throughout and left enjoying it. I was not one of them. Samuel L. Jackson has been in 100+ movies. Stay home and find one of those to watch.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Reynolds and Jackson are better than this generic material.
RATING: 2 out of 5 TICKET STUBS