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‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ (review)

Produced by David Ellison, Mark Gill,
Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole,
John Thompson, Les Weldon
Written by Tom O’Connor
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson,
Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Élodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell,
Richard E. Grant, Sam Hazeldine

 

Aaah, the end of the summer blockbuster season. Studios realize that in August most families are in the last weeks of vacations and summer camps, and that fatigue from big budget CGI films has officially set in.

Movies that may have had lackluster performances earlier in the summer against more robust offerings have a chance to shine with a late season opening.

This is the case with The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which may have proved forgettable a few weeks ago but is a welcome diversion from summer screen doldrums.

The film follows Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) a private security agent who is trying to get back on top after a client mishap. When he is asked to shepherd contract killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to testify at The Hague against war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), two men on opposite sides of the same industry put away their differences for a road trip full of shootouts, banter, and unforeseen life lessons.

Either of these stars can carry a movie, but the pairing of Jackson and Reynolds makes for one of the better buddy adventures this year. The straight man delivery that Reynolds used heavily in Deadpool is a great foil to Jackson’s brash and carefree nature. Both seemed to truly enjoy these roles, and their chemistry strongly suggests other movies in the future.

The banter is easygoing but still sharp, with more than a few lewd jokes from Jackson, and the pacing of their conversations works well. Having several arguments where each frustrated character tries to speak over the other rather than watching two hours of exchanged one liners adds to the vibrancy of the duo.

When not engaging in verbal sparring matches, the action scenes were just as engaging with plenty of chances to show superior marksmanship and decently choreographed fighting skills. Being that this is a race to get to the trial in time there are also a few notable chase scenes, with a trip through the streets and channels of Amsterdam being the most entertaining.

Jackson’s trademark liberal use of mother#^@%*& to describe anything and everything is a large part of the fun that extends to his onscreen wife, Salma Hayek. She is a welcome distraction as Sonia Kincaid, foul-mouthed and gorgeous even in her prison cell. Hers is the best supporting performance, as Élodie Yung is stiff as Interpol agent/ Reynold’s love interest. Gary Oldman is also somewhat disappointing, coming off as a bit too one-sided and cartoonish even for a farce like this. A distracting score underlines cheesy emotional moments to remind us not to take any of this too seriously.

 

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