Patrick Hughes’ “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is an action-packed, comedic take on a world-class bodyguard protecting a world-class hitman.
Without its incredible leads, the film would take a nasty dive into mediocrity. Thanks to Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” succeeds in what it sets out to do.
The film follows its two main characters throughout the first half-hour with predictability. Reynolds’ character, Michael Bryce, is a by-the-books bodyguard who protects the world’s most powerful CEOs. Jackson’s character, Darius Kincaid, is a loud-mouthed hitman who tracks and kills for some of the world’s most dangerous men.
Kincaid is called to testify against a war criminal (played by Gary Oldman) in international court, and is thus in need of intense protection en route to the trial. When everything goes wrong and the situation is compromised, the agent in charge must call in someone from the outside to complete the mission. Enter Bryce.
In the beginning, the movie is unremarkable. A very predictable action movie with shallow characters and average action, Reynolds and Jackson are the redeemers in each of their respective scenes.
It’s when they finally meet that the movie kicks into high gear. Their chemistry is high energy and a treat to watch on screen. At times, the characters seem to hold back the actors, and the movie’s many rewrites poke through.
But the adventures of these two, fighting and shooting their way across Europe, are quite entertaining. Both are endlessly charming, with Jackson’s potty mouth and Reynolds’ sarcasm. There’s no end to the chuckling as the two interact.
A weaker point of the film is its paper-thin supporting cast. Elodie Yung, whom “Daredevil” fans may recognize, portrays Bryce’s love interest and Kincaid’s protective agent. She does very little in the film besides bring the two protagonists together, and then moves to the background for the remainder of the film.
The subplot regarding her and Bryce’s romance was sluggish and weighed the rest of the movie down with it, with the exception of Jackson giving relationship advice during a high speed car chase.
Salma Hayek, who plays Kincaid’s incarcerated wife, is wonderful to watch in her brief screen-time, but has no overall effect on the movie or plot itself and often feels like a cheap addition.
Gary Oldman’s performance as a menacing dictator is full of tired tropes and stereotypes, but it seems more a fault of the writers’ than his.
Visually, the film is nothing to write home about. With shaky editing and a lack of set pieces or interesting cinematography, the only thing reminding one that the film is set in Europe is the presence of British accents.
The action of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is somewhat average throughout the beginning and middle of the film. There are gunfights and car chases, but nothing outlandish. In the end, however, Jackson and Reynolds are chased through the streets of Amsterdam in an amazing blend of action and comedy that is delightful and exhilarating to watch. In particular, a hardware shop fight is very fun to watch.
In the end, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” won’t revolutionize action comedies, nor is it setting out to do so. Reynolds and Jackson lend their talents to the film with incredible results, and the two lift the film from an average action film to a funny, quirky film that is worth a shot. If “Deadpool” and Jackson’s other works are favorites, this movie will delight.