The Hitman's Bodyguard movie review: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson's chemistry is only redeeming factor
If you like Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson, The Hitman's Bodyguard is a fairly fun action-comedy to watch, chuckle at a few times and forget about. This is one of those films that will probably not have a big life in theaters, but will probably become a cult favourite on DVD and streaming services. It’s worth a watch just for the ridiculous banter between its two stars, even if nothing else is memorable.
There’s not a lot to write home about in the story department – the plot feels like a small YouTube comedy sketch stretched into a film. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a bodyguard whose career is in the dumps because his last client was shot in the head by a sniper. He gets one last chance at redeeming things career-wise, and also with his Interpol operative love interest (Elodie Yung). His mission – to become the bodyguard of a dangerous assassin named Darius (Jackson), who is about to testify against a major crime lord. Naturally the mission goes hilariously wrong, and the two mismatched men are set on a chase across Europe, dodging gangsters.
If you have seen a few buddy cop comedies, there’s little you will hate about The Hitman’s Bodyguard, as director Patrick Hughes employs every genre cliché in the book to keep things afloat. The guffaw-inducingly contrasting personalities of the two leads, the fact that they hate each other even though they secretly love each other, the unlikely team-up to defeat a cartoon-ish villain, over-the-top action scenes in exotic locations, and also a throwback to earlier comedies – particularly the 48 Hours series. One could argue that there’s nothing new to see here, but sometimes clichés executed in a fun enough way are still enjoyable to sit through.
A lot of the film depends on the back and forth between Reynolds and Jackson – and the two have a total blast on screen. Jackson seems to be cast purely to hurl his favourite expletive constantly, and Reynolds is at his sardonic best. It feels like watching cinematic comfort food every time these two clash against each other and team up to hilariously evade certain death. The dialogue, no doubt heavily improvised by the two, which can only be described as b*kch*di is an endless stream of easy chuckles.
On the downside Gary Oldman who plays the villain is cringe-inducing, putting absolutely no effort in the film except for reaching out for the paycheck. Salma Hayek, who plays Darius’ wife gets a few fun moments but is ultimately inconsequential and also unnecessary. Too many cars explode in the film for no solid or even comedic reason, and the finale does not live up to the buildup. The dynamics between the mismatched couple is fun until they try to kill each other, but becomes predictable when they realize they need to bond for a higher purpose.
It goes to show that the leads were put in a plot that was not ideal. If the film only had Reynolds and Jackson talking to each other, without the bells and whistles of action and contrived conflict, it could have been even more entertaining. The idea of lampooning The Bodyguard and Whitney Houston’s song is undeniably funny but a better director – like duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller – could have taken the idea and turned it into a more memorable film.