Action Comedy

'The Hitman's Bodyguard' Film Review: A mediocre plot and a lackluster villain, but Jackson and Reynolds make it work

August 16, 2017Ben MK

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are two actors known for their quick-witted retorts and flippant remarks, so it should come as no surprise that when you put the both of them in a movie together, you're gonna get some grade-A banter. But is their on-screen chemistry enough to overcome what amounts to a forgettable plot, a bland villain and not one, but two love interests?

In The Hitman's Bodyguard, Reynolds and Jackson play Michael Bryce and Darius Kincaid, two men working on opposite sides, until they're forced to work together. As a triple-A Executive Protection Agent, Michael is used to protecting the sort of clientele that Darius, a contract killer, is used to eliminating — that is, until he loses his license when one of his customers is assassinated. But when Darius becomes the star witness in the trial of murderous Belarusian President Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), it's he who finds himself under Michael's protection.

Now Michael has 27 hours to escort Darius from Manchester, England to the International Crime Court in The Hague — a feat that proves easier said than done, given that a dozen Interpol agents already lost their lives trying to do the same. Not only will the unlikely pair have to tolerate each other's insufferable quirks as they embark on a road trip across Europe, stopping in such cities as Amsterdam along the way, but they'll also have to contend with Dukhovich's heavily-armed goons, who will stop at nothing to ensure that the two don't make it there alive.

As you might expect, the premise proves to be little more than a thinly-veiled excuse to have Reynolds and Jackson shout expletives at each other for two hours, while bullets fly, cars crash and explosions go off around them. Still, that's not to say the result is altogether unwelcome, as director Patrick Hughes and screenwriter Tom O'Connor at least know how to milk a good thing when they see one. Suffice to say, Reynolds and Jackson's pairing plays just as well on screen as it does on paper, and the film's otherwise run-of-the-mill action sequences end up better for it.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Oldman's turn as the movie's big bad. Neither that big, nor that bad, and definitely not that intimidating, Dukhovich is a far cry from Oldman's maniacal roles in Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, and the character is instantly forgotten whenever he's not on screen. Bland and stereotypical, this is Oldman slumming it in "paycheck" mode. But who can blame him, really, as the actor is literally given nothing interesting to do other than to participate in the mundane machinations of the plot.

Elodie Yung and Salma Hayek, on the other hand, fare a bit better. As Michael's ex, Amelia, who also happens to be the Interpol agent originally charged with Darius' safe passage, and Darius' foul-mouthed and hot-tempered wife, Sonia, whom the authorities are using as leverage to get him to cooperate, not only are they afforded more screen time, but Hayek also emerges as one of the film's MVPs, walking away with some of the movie's funniest scenes. It's just too bad that the rest of The Hitman's Bodyguard doesn't always manage to hit the same bullseye.

The Hitman's Bodyguard releases August 18th, 2017 from VVS Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong violence and language throughout. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 58 Mins.

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