THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD: Reynolds & Jackson Are Game, But That’s About It
Despite committed, enjoyable performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, The Hitman's Bodyguard is tired, cliched and overlong.
As we’re almost into the most glorious time of year, NFL season, I’ll make the following analogy – The Hitman’s Bodyguard is like a team that starts out 0-4, but they make a late surge for the playoffs. Does The Hitman’s Bodyguard make the playoffs? It does not.
While this movie gets progressively better, it loses you quickly in the first half hour. The opening sequence is obnoxious, overly stylized and painfully predictable. The next few scenes are boring as hell. This was supposed to be a buddy comedy, yet it plays like a half-ass comedy/half-ass action movie/half-ass drama. What’s the result? A half-ass movie. It’s not until Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson finally get on screen together when the movie kicks into high gear, but sadly, their dynamic isn’t enough to save it.
Reynolds and Jackson…Not Enough
Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a down on his luck bodyguard who protects high level scumbags. When he’s reluctantly called in by his ex-girlfriend, an Interpol agent played by Elodie Yung, to transport a lethal contract killer (Samuel L. Jackson) and key witness against a corrupt Russian Dictator (Gary Oldman), he’s less than thrilled, as the two have a contentious history.
I don’t need to sit here and sing the praises of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. We know what they are. The problem is this movie only works when they’re together. Ryan Reynolds glibs his way through a few scenes, but you don’t care about this guy. As great as Samuel L. Jackson is, he has the propensity to hit cruise control. When he’s not with Ryan Reynolds, that’s exactly what he does. It’s Samuel L. Jackson yelling “Mother F**Ker!” That’s the character. I’ll have more to say on that later.
When the two finally get on screen together, you’re already checked out, so they have a lot of work to do to get you back in. While a weak script, these guys do an admirable job. There’s definitely a chemistry. You get the dialogue you want out of these actors. There’s even decent character development in how they are complete opposites, with Reynolds being the compulsive “I have to plan everything out” guy, and Jackson always flying by the seat of his pants. In short, you finally get the buddy comedy you wanted, but anytime The Hitman’s Bodyguard shifts away from them, it goes into total Whatevs land.
Villain Cruise Control
If Jackson has the tendency to hit cruise control, so does Gary Oldman. It’s not his fault. The script gives him scrap metal. Oldman plays Generic Russian Villain #456. The end. Even his first scene where he kills this dude’s family, there’s no buildup or good dialogue whatsoever. He just picks up a gun and shoots. Wow. You also have a villain named Ivan. To quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.” Seriously? Ivan?
Speaking of supporting characters, there’s Salma Hayek, Jackson’s wife who’s currently in prison. Quick side note – she has an overweight cellmate who Hayek makes stand in the corner. She’s only there for a fart joke. Huh? What the hell was that? Otherwise though, Hayek brings her usual vigor, but her lines are pretty much relegated to “f**king,” “f**k” and “f**cked.” Again, just a weak screenplay.
Speaking of the f-word, let’s get back to Mr. Jackson. They cliché this guy up by making him say “Mother F**ker” every ten minutes. Oh, yeah. Haven’t heard Jackson do that before. If that wasn’t bad enough though, The Hitman’s Bodyguard commits one of my biggest pet-peeves. It tries to overcompensate for using this cliché by making reference to the fact that it’s a cliché. No. Stop. Go away. That doesn’t make it any better. You’re just admitting you’re lazy.
A Slow Burn to the Finish Line
The third act is drawn out beyond belief. You know that feeling you get during a movie when you know there’s still one big action scene left, but you just want to get through it. This movie has like three of them. Just wrap it up, already. You know you’re in a subpar movie when the action is a chore rather than fun. When I saw who the director was for this (Patrick Hughes), it didn’t surprise me in the least that he also did The Expendables 3.
If you looked up excruciating in the dictionary, you’d find a poster for that film. There’s a few clever action moments with Reynolds, but it suffers the typical problem in today’s film world of going on too long with shaky edits. There’s nothing more irritating than sloppy editing, especially when it comes to action. That’s exactly what you get here. It also helps when action sequences have good music, but also like most action films today, the score is nothing but generic noise.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard: Conclusion
While Reynolds and Jackson can be entertaining, and there’s a clever flashback of Jackson and Hayek meeting, The Hitman’s Bodyguard digs itself too big a hole early on. I’d give a sequel with these guys a chance, but the writers and director would have to watch Lethal Weapon 90 times in a row before they start writing again.
What did you think of The Hitman’s Bodyguard? Was there a great buddy comedy that could have been made here?
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is now released in the US and the UK. For all international release dates, click here.
“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.” Read the Letter of Solidarity here. Make a donation to the legal fund here.