The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an undemanding and amusing action comedy if you’re in the mood

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) – Film Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard - film poster 2017

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – film poster 2017

There’s a moment in this film when Ryan Reynolds bemoans the fact that Samuel L Jackson has ruined a certain curse word which he is famous for.

Of course, Jackson uses that word – and a multitude of others – liberally throughout the film and the key to enjoying this is liking Jackson in full Pulp Fiction mode while Reynolds does a lower key Deadpool while being his exasperated straight man.

Buddy movies are increasingly rare these days, and The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a brave attempt to elevate what looks like straight-to-DVD action fodder into an entertaining rehash of Midnight Run.

Director Patrick Hughes (Expendables 3) proves he can do action but there must have been some budgetary constraints as there’s quite a lot of rather obvious CGI going on especially towards the end of this action comedy where the budget couldn’t stretch to the stunts that Hughes clearly wanted.

The basic premise is that Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) is Michael Bryce, a “triple-A executive protection agent” who has to make sure that Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson, Hateful Eight) – a hitman with evidence which could send an Eastern European dictator to jail if he arrives alive in Amsterdam to testify against him on time.

Bryce is a high tech stickler for detail and rules, while Kincaid is much more old fashioned, freeform and emotional.

Both hate each other with a passion, with Kincaid having tried to kill Bryce on several occasions over the years, but this time Bryce has to make sure Kincaid gets to court on time alive to testify.

And they have to spend an entire day bickering with each other (and unforgettably singing) as they go on a foul mouthed road trip while fending off many bad guys.

This sort of film is usually over and done with in 95 minutes, roughly the same amount of time accorded to The Dark Tower which is also out this weekend.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard spends an extra half hour trying out some character moments and backstory

The Hitman’s Bodyguard gets an extra half hour to sling in some character moments and backstory which only lightly sketch the main characters out – any opportunity to give their love interests more screen time wasn’t taken up and the pacing suffers when the film gets too talky.

Elodie Yung (Amelia Roussel, Bryce’s ex-girlfriend) barely showed up in the film while Salma Hayek (Sonia, Kincaid’s wife) was merely given an eye opening (and foul mouthed) series of tirades set mainly in a prison cell.

It’s sad, then, that we didn’t see more of Hayek or of Kincaid’s briefly touched upon back story – Bryce’s backstory is a little flat – and we have another appearance from multi genre 80s music in a strangely unfocused way.

Wasted opportunities, then, but we do get some serious scenery chewing from Gary Oldman as ex-Belorussian president Vladislav Dukhovich who is up in for trial in the Hague for War Crimes.

Oldman is in full villain mode and he sends legions of Eastern European bad guys to try and kill our heroes as they try to make their way towards Amsterdam from Manchester in 27 hours.

Cue some travelling, bickering, bromance, and a very nice advert for a weekend break in the Netherlands, despite the excessive use of rocket launchers, car/bike/boat chases, machine guns and an inventive battle through some shops in the Dutch capital.

The plot is nothing to write home about and the action is limited by the budget but the presence of Reynolds and Jackson plus a script which plays to their strengths means this film does manage to rise above the action fodder it could have been – Atomic Blonde did better last week with its limited budget although admittedly Reynolds and Jackson have charisma to spare.

My screening certainly contained plenty of people who were entertained by the bickering.

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (15; strong language, bloody violence; 118 minutes)

Cast includes: Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung, Richard E. Grant

Summary: THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD is an action comedy in which an elite bodyguard is forced to accompany a fugitive killer on a trip across Europe, pursued by rival criminals and authorities.

Rating: *** (Utterly ridiculous and too long but if you’re in the mood for a brainless action flick with some laughs you could do worse than give this film a try.)