Published on September 1st, 2017 | by Tim Cooper
The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Film Review
Reviewed by Tim Cooper on the 1st of September 2017
Roadshow presents a film by Patrick Hughes
Produced by David Ellison, Mark Gill, Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson and Les Weldon
Written by Tom O’Connor
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Élodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell and Richard E. Grant
Music by Atli Örvarsson
Cinematography Jules O’Loughlin
Edited by Jake Roberts
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date: the 31st of August 2017
While on a job, self-proclaimed “Triple A” rated bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) fails to protect his gun running client. No longer employable in the glamorous world of VIP protection, Bryce is limited to escorting low level clientele while he nurses his emerging drinking problem. Meanwhile, incarcerated hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is called upon to testify against dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). After narrowly escaping an assassination attempt, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) contacts disgraced bodyguard Bryce, who is also her ex-boyfriend, to escort Darius quietly and safely to the International Court of Justice so he can testify against Dukhovich.
Odd couples and action movies have always been a bankable film subgenre. Lethal Weapon (1983) and its three sequels remain the obvious standouts amongst all of the genre’s entries. The first film was successful due to the grounded performances from the lead cast and the chemistry they shared together. Despite the script for the action/comedy classic carrying many a cop film cliché, Danny Glover and Mel Gibson where both ferocious and funny when delivering their dialogue. This ferocity and tenacity gave their performances a perceived edge of improvisation that elevated the characters above the script and helped drive the success of the following films. The Hitman’s Bodyguard will undoubtedly be compared to these films due to the banter shared between Jackson and Reynolds’ on-screen characters and off-screen personas. Both are known to be quick witted and more than just a little smart mouthed in real life; fortunately, this extends to their characters Bryce and Darius.
However, does The Hitman’s Bodyguard hold up amongst other classics in the genre? Absolutely not. In fact, it doesn’t come close. For those not willing to endure check-your-head-at-the-door type entertainment it would be advised to either go rent, or better still, buy Die Hard: with a Vengeance (1995). It’s peak Jackson and proudly stands next to the original Die Hard (1988). For those tired of watching Deadpool (2016) but are still wanting a Reynolds fix, it’s probably a little bit harder to find something strong in his back catalogue. The comedic actor’s resume is full of so many bombs that if you threw him out to sea he would sink an army of battleships. While the two actors have given better performances in previous films, it is clear here that they are enjoying working together and having fun with their lines. This is the film’s only saving grace as the actors help to propel a script that seems out of date and confused in its purpose.
The supporting cast gets some much-needed punch courtesy of Salma Hayek. As Darius’ wife Sonia she manages to steal the show during the film’s goriest scene: the retelling of the night her and Darius first met. Her performance is a welcome break from the man-squabbling between Reynolds and Jackson but she could have been further utilised. Hayek is no stranger to action but is distanced from it for most of the film. Gary Oldman also turns up to re-write the book on phoning it in. His disappointingly bland performance is devoid of any of his natural character or spark. This film would have benefited greatly from a significantly better Oldman performance amongst the sea of faceless bad guy cannon fodder.
The action, featured in spurts between the comedic bickering of the leads, provides a welcome thrill despite the confusing direction and the execution of these sequences. At times, The Hitman’s Bodyguard wants to show you blood and guts and shout profanity at you. Yet when you start to expect the same onslaught the film delivers mediocre action, using obvious stunt doubles and distracting cinematography. Set in Europe for absolutely no essential reason, the stunning backdrops of the many cities the film visits are wasted on a scale that would put a perpetually drunk Contiki Tour of footballers to shame.
Europe can provide grand and appropriate backdrops for action as directors like Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, 1990) have used in the past. Other films like In Bruges (2008) have also blended comedy and action in the European setting to a much more successful result. This film has the aesthetic of an American transplanted organ grown on a diet of cheeseburgers and given to body that just wants to reject it. Had the film been set in Los Angeles, it would have suited it’s outdated, odd couple, action film roots, and made more sense of the gung-ho attitude the script has on display.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels like a cheap film despite its budget, cast and setting. The laughs are predictable and the action is inconsistent; the film just scrapes by on the visible fun being had by Jackson and Reynolds. Despite the film’s uneven pace, it still manages to deliver a final act with enough action for those wanting a mildly entertaining thrill ride with some laughs attached.
Summary: The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels like a cheap film despite its budget, cast and setting. The laughs are predictable and the action is inconsistent.