It what could have easily been a forgettable, run-of-the-mill action/comedy, the chemistry between leads Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson ends up saving the film itself.
When trying to think of any actor who can deliver a line with “motherfucker” in it better than Samuel L. Jackson, I really do come up short. At that top of that potential list though would have to be Ryan Reynolds, who proved his potty-mouth proficiency with last year’s Deadpool and who gets another moment to shine alongside Jackson in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, the newest film from director Patrick Hughes (Red Hill).
Suffice to say, without the chemistry between its two lead stars, The Hitman’s Bodyguard might have gotten lost in the late summer slosh of movies overshadowed by a majority of the summer blockbusters. However, while the story is a little predictable at times, there’s enough on screen to keep things interesting, preventing the film from becoming forgettable.
Ryan Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, an AAA-rated security specialist (aka bodyguard) who prides himself in his cautious, detail-oriented, and “boring” career protecting VIP clientele. However, the death of a client ends up costing him his career (including his AAA rating) as well as his relationship with Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung). Two years later, she enlists his help to protect Jackson’s elite assassin, Darius Kincaid. Kincaid is cooperating with Interpol to free his wife (Salma Hayek), by testifying against alleged war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), who’s being tried for genocide amongst other crimes.
Reynolds and Jackson are absolutely in their element, playing off each other smoothly. Reynolds plays more of the straight man to Jackson’s loose cannon, but both get their chance to be badass and slip in a few digs at each other throughout the film. The film as a whole isn’t necessarily trying to reinvent the genre and it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, which ends up helping in the long run. Some of the set pieces are well done, including an exciting chase through Amsterdam that only really falters due to some of the CGI being a little too noticeable.
The plot is a little predictable at some points, but thanks to Reynolds and Jackson, the film still feels fresh enough to overlook those moments. The moments where the film loses momentum is pretty much whenever Reynolds and Jackson are split up. Some of these moments really don’t make a lot of sense and it seems as if Hughes just wanted to give them their own moments to shine, not worrying about working them into the story fluidly. Oldman feels like he’s there to collect a paycheck, but he still makes the most of what he’s given.
And in the end, it’s still Gary Oldman. The man deserves whatever paycheck you give him. Salma Hayek appears to be having fun, but she feels a little miscast, so it feels like she’s trying incredibly hard to fit in. Elodie Yung definitely holds her own in the film, but she’s a bit underutilized, even though she does have a few moments to shine.
The film plays it a little too safe, especially for an “R” rated film, most of which comes from the abundance of blood and “motherfuckers” spewing throughout. Hughes showed some intriguing originality in his previous film Red Hill, a criminally underseen neo-western/thriller. However, this film feels like the director playing it safe, trying not to do anything too unique and original, in order to appease as many as possible.
While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, it does feel like a missed opportunity. In the end, the film seems fine to just be a simple, fun, popcorn flick, which is perfectly fine. Not every film needs to define and push the genre forward, and watching Reynolds and Jackson together is worth the price of admission on its own, if you’re a fan of either.
Overall: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Watch the trailer here:
The Hitman’s Bodyguard opens nationwide on Friday, August 18th, 2017.
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