For a film that features Samuel L Jackson cussing at Ryan Reynolds, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is nowhere near as funny as it should be.
Sure, there's appeal in juxtaposing the aggressive stubbornness of Jackson with the wise-cracking sarcasm of Reynolds, but it’s also the reason why The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s flounders. It seems like the people behind the film believe that simply bringing the two actors together and letting them loose on screen would be enough. It isn’t.
Because The Hitman’s Bodyguard rests on these laurels, it only delivers the odd moment of enthrallment, and never comes close to a coherent, entertaining action comedy.
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In The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Ryan Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a triple A-rated executive protection agent who is suddenly tasked with protecting Samuel L. Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, one of the world’s most notorious hitmen. Ryan Reynolds has just 27 hours to transport Darius Kincaid from the middle of England to the International Court Of Justice in Holland so that he can testify against the brutal dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). In exchange for his testimony, Darius’ wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) will be given immunity.
The problem is there’s quite a lot of bad blood between Darius and Michael. That’s because Darius has tried to kill Michael on 28 occasions, something that he understandably has a bit of a grievance with. Their squabble is only exacerbated by the fact that both Interpol and Dukhovich’s goons are also hunting down the pair.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard frustrates because you can actually see the potential: There’s a reason why it was among the winners of the 2011 Black List. There’s a constant momentum to the film, while the action beats are perfectly placed, too. It’s just that it fails to take any initiative of its own, and is ultimately happy to just drown in derivativeness. It also doesn’t help that there’s a complete lack of panache to Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3)’s direction, who stagnates rather than ignites what are supposed to be the film’s most spectacular moments.
At the same time, too much freedom is given to both Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, most excruciatingly when they each sing separate songs over the top of each other for what seems like an eternity. While Tom O’Connor’s script gives the two actors enough opportunities to offer expletive heavy witticisms and barking retorts, none of the remarks are that memorable. Only a handful produce little more than a guffaw. What’s even more surprising is just how much they waste Gary Oldman, whose villain is nothing more than a vague East Europan accent and some scar tissue, and out of the cast only Salma Hayek makes an impression.
While The Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t a complete waste of your time, it is far from the sum of its parts, which considering its cast is particularly egregious, and ultimately makes it feel more underwhelming than it actually is.
The Hitman's Bodyguard will be released on August 18th.