I can’t say I expected much out of The Hitman’s Bodyguard because I knew not so much about it other than the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, a pair of actors that I’ve always enjoyed depending on the sort of role that they’re playing. To see the two of them being themselves and put together only would have made for something entertaining but the notion that Patrick Hughes was going behind the camera had me skeptical after having been left a bitter taste from The Expendables 3. I suppose having all of that in mind would have only kept me waiting for what to expect out of The Hitman’s Bodyguard overall and it was exactly what I had received. A movie that spends nearly two hours with the two of them getting within shenanigans and not much beyond that. I had only supposed the pairing of the two would only provide such as a means of killing time for said length.
Samuel L. Jackson stars as noted contract killer Darius Kincaide and Ryan Reynolds as his bodyguard Michael Bryce. Bryce has already been left disgraced after one job has gone horribly wrong and he is called to protect Kincaide, so that he can arrive at an important trial in order to testify against a ruthless dictator played by Gary Oldman. But the two of them have their own differences coming along the way yet for the safety of Kincaide, they must put them aside. It carries the plot of just about five or six other buddy action comedies which should be one aspect to set one’s expectations, and yet this isn’t even the worst thing about the movie. As a matter of fact, it almost feels nostalgic watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard in a sense, but perhaps there’s so much of it that it sticks to that keeps it from being more because it’s clear enough the movie doesn’t want to go beyond such to show any of its potential.
The film’s plot being that of any old buddy action comedy along the lines of Lethal Weapon or 48 Hrs. would already set expectations for the sort of films it’s throwing back to, and on that level I can’t lie when I say that I found it entertaining enough. Even though it’s too long and not executed in an original manner, it still provides enough laughs along the way in order to make a perfect time killer. Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds are a delightful pair to watch together, but the film’s comedy doesn’t always land because the script seems to throw in numerous F-bombs a la Quentin Tarantino, and it’s evidently not clever. Yet somehow the chemistry between Jackson and Reynolds was enough to keep one’s attention for the film’s running time, because they allow The Hitman’s Bodyguard to carry a spark of personality that the film would have been boring to watch without.
Patrick Hughes hasn’t particularly proven himself to be a great action director because he establishes one shot only to ruin it with a multitude of edits. The visual effects aren’t especially remarkable either, but the biggest problem that Hughes seems to have is that he can’t establish a perfect tone for the scene and it’s a part of why the comedy doesn’t always work as well. When the film becomes ridiculously violent, sometimes it sticks onto a gruesome image much to the point it even becomes unpleasant to look at – and quickly it follows up with a fight scene that’s clearly played in a comedic manner. He’s clearly stepped up his game from The Expendables 3 which he ended up ruining through a PG-13 rating, but his use of close-ups during action scenes still appears grating because these are moments where the scenery needs room to breathe and it feels suffocated by the intense editing.
Gary Oldman isn’t an especially remarkable villain either, because the majority of the film he seems to be sitting down inside of a room demanding orders on what to do next to keep Kincaide from arriving at the trial safely. But that only shows one of the film’s biggest problems, when the film isn’t about Kincaide and Bryce trying to keep themselves alive, the majority of the supporting characters are merely sitting down waiting for more to happen and it’s clear enough from how badly Salma Hayek and Elodie Yung are wasted. Hayek’s character spends most of the movie within a prison cell, shouting more expletives because she picked up so much from Jackson and Yung’s role as a disgruntled former lover of Reynolds carries little to no impact whatsoever because like Jackson and Hayek’s relationship, it seems built on shouting at one another rather than steady moments that bring the viewers closer to their character.
But to see Reynolds not being as much of a hero as he appears to be in the same manner that Jackson isn’t so much of a stoic hitman as he’s built up to be, it still provides enough fun for two hours. It was a perfect time killer given as it felt faster than its running time, and the climactic action sequence was still an eye-opener as I would have wanted – but so much at the same time doesn’t work. I’m glad at the very least that it wasn’t made as a cheap parody of The Bodyguard given as the advertising had already made extensive use of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (which I’m glad wasn’t actually in the movie, because I’ve both never been a fan of this cover and grew tired of it after it has been needlessly overplayed) but I also wish that Hughes was aspiring to make the film become something more than it is. To see Jackson and Reynolds shouting at each other for two hours though, it’s a perfect opportunity to leave your brain outside the door.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Lionsgate.
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Screenplay by Tom O’Connor
Produced by David Ellison, Mark Gill, Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson, Les Weldon
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 118 minutes