Synopsis – The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.
My Take – I am sure we all remember a time when the buddy action film was one of the most popular genre, if not the most successful. Maintaining a high level of success ratio in the 80s & 90s, these film, despite their predicablity, were mostly entertaining, and above all, the pairing of two actors of different virtues was always a delight to watch. While, the seemed to have dissipated in the past few years (of course there are exceptions like Jump Street film), this Patrick Hughes directed film, proudly boasting its R-rating, is a nice throwback to those films with its bombastic action scenes, frequent swearing and bickering between leads Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, and dedication to genre clichés. Also, I must say that this is one of the funniest films I have seen in a long time. Yes, there’s a decent amount of violence and bad language, but the special taste of humor made me laugh like I hadn’t in a year or more. Walking in with lowered expectations, the nonstop intensity and hilarity made sure my attention never wavered.
The story follows Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a former Triple A rated professional bodyguard, who loses his reputation & business after one of his high-profile client gets assassinated despite all the precaution measures taken by him. Struggling to earn back his reputation, Bryce despite being the best in the business is wasting his potential by protecting relative unknowns. Matters complicate for him, when he receives a call from Interpol Agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), his ex-girlfriend requesting his help as her efforts to get jailed hit-man Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) from London to the Netherlands were compromised, & Bryce is the only person whom she can trust – at least, with this situation. Despite being longtime rivals, Bryce & Kincaid decide to work together as Kincaid is the only remaining witness against Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), President of the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, in his trail for war crimes and countless atrocities, and his testimony would free his tough-as-nails wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), from prison. As Amelia leaves Bryce to the task of getting Kincaid to the International Criminal Court in time for his testimony (in about 24 hours), while she goes back to Interpol to try to find and plug that leak. Dukhovich’s henchmen, led by the brutally determined Ivan (Yuri Kolokolnikov), catch up with Bryce and Kincaid – early and often. As this lethal odd couple (two men with similar skills but very different approaches to life and love) make their way to The Hague, they use (and ruin) multiple vehicles and get into gun battles and close quarters combat on city streets, down country roads and through the avenues and waterways of Amsterdam, leaving a high body count behind, but never far from danger. While the story sounds interesting, it plays out in a pretty typical and predictable way. Not that I should have expected much more. It is an action/comedy film, after all. But predictability aside, the story does get the job done. Yeah, you’ll be able to figure out how the film will end within the first 30 minutes or so, but that’s not all that important, because it’s all about the journey to that very predictable, and satisfying ending and boy, the adventure that Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds go on is extremely entertaining. Both Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson make for a fun team, While I can’ say their playing fully developed characters, they both separate themselves enough to give them a clear grounding for their comedy. I can say that I laughed plenty times to say that this was fun. I would even argue that this is so self-aware of how tired this plot device is, this may be a parody is disguise as many moments are enjoyably over-the-top. Once you get past the film’s slow start, it’s pretty much an all you can chuckle buffet. There were so many moments that I and the rest of the audience would really laugh out loud. The screenplay writers had a field day with the dialogue of this film, stretching their minds to deliver lines worthy of cheap laughs to witty gold. I certainly enjoyed the entire spectrum in this film, but really enjoyed the timing of the jokes and the delivery from the two leading actors, especially Jackson, sold the line for full price. When they say action/comedy they mean action comedy alright. The film has edge packed into its gun happy, pro-violence run and in a variety of styles that help diversify the plot.
Jackson and Reynolds, or at least their doubles, are involved in a variety of stunts that mix martial arts, weaponry mastery, and insane driving on their journey to testify. I was surprised with how well the action sequences were shot. With heavy rock composing score and an exciting shoot outs and action. It kept myself engaged to the screen. I myself had an adrenaline-fueled blast with the film, but one fan hollered in approval at the hardcore action contained in this film, despite how illogical, unrealistic, or death defying they were. And as a note, the camera work is quite stable to pull off an approval from yours truly. Director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) managed to handle a good set up with the action set pieces if it was from car chases, shootouts, or even a fight scene in a hardware store with some painful looking equipment being thrown at each other. The action was plenty and it never slowed down. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson give exactly the performances one would expect them to give in this type of flick. Their comedic chemistry is undeniable, even though Jackson is playing his usual bad-ass with a wicked sense of humor and Reynolds gives us his patented smart-ass with a heart. While, Reynolds is all about the charm and Jackson is all about the attitude. They play off each other well and make a unique enough pairing that they don’t come across as a duo that the audience has seen on screen a hundred times before. Samuel L Jackson is an expletive spewing, laid back, deadly assassin with a big heart. If you could write a role just for him to appease his fans this is it. I couldn’t possibly say it’s not a good performance because it fits him like a glove. So, if you like him, you’ll this and his character. Ryan Reynolds is the usual adorable, sweet guy with bad-ass moves and some of the best sarcastic comedic timing in the business. A film like this literally lives and breathes by the chemistry between its “buddies” and Reynolds and Jackson are excellent together! There are plenty of laughs when Jackson and Reynolds are arguing with each other or doing a terrible job of attempting to be peaceful. Jackson and Reynolds work very well with one another and their banter and chiding comes across as very natural. I am not sure, why an actor of Gary Oldman‘s stature would take up such a role. We all known Oldman is a master of playing those grittier roles and doesn’t shy away from experimenting. Sadly, the villains have little bite, reduced to threatening facial gestures (amidst unimpressive makeup), a few grandiose speeches, and oh yes, a running scene. The worst part though has to be the accent and direction Oldman gave the character, which sounded forced, stretched, and uncommitted to the character at hand. This antagonist was boring and outside Oldman‘s normal range, leaving the flunkies to bring the pain. Had they focused on his lieutenant a little more, we may have had a real ringer. Among the supporting cast, the lead’s respective ladies lead the pack, with each getting moments to shine, Elodie Yung is very likable, and Salma Hayek is just as funny as Jackson. On the whole, ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is a very enjoyable action comedy that despite its genre clichés is a must watch for its magnificent leads.
Directed – Patrick Hughes
Rated – R
Run Time – 118 minutes