The Hitman’s Bodyguard had pretty brilliant first trailer. We saw the sarcastic Ryan Reynolds and the over the top Samuel L. Jackson quip their way through some mayhem to the tune of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” It looked absolutely hilarious in an obnoxious but fun way.
So how is the final product?
The Hitman’s Bodyguard can be grating due to some odd switches in tone, pacing and a sometimes annoying caricature of a typical Jackson character. A few fun comedic moments and exciting action set pieces peek through the mediocrity. The movie is an entertaining disappointment.
What If Deadpool Lite and A Sam Jackson Impressionist Made A Movie?
World famous assassin Darius Kincaid (Jackson) is the star witness in the trial of Eastern European dictator Vladisvach Dukovich (Gary Oldman). After making a deal to free his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek), Kincaid is transported to the Hague, but his escort is decimated by mercenaries. Kincaid’s only hope is disgraced “Triple A” bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). Will they kill each other before they get to the trial? What hilarious hijinks will ensue?
And that’s the ultimate problem with The Hitman’s Bodyguard: It’s not very funny. The action comedy makes some jarring switches in tone. There are moments when it wants to be heavy, tackling international human rights, or the morality of killing for a living. These subjects add to a bloated run time of nearly two hours. It feels like the filmmakers are trying to stretch out the simple premise.
It’s too bad because Reynolds and Jackson play off each other well when they are left alone. The extraneous plot points take away much of the time from them, a puzzling decision given how the movie’s advertising showed them constantly together.
However, there are problems with both actor’s performances. Whenever Reynolds appears to just go off script, he shines. But when the scripted moments happen, he seems restrained. Though this may be the script, it’s still jarring to see him this way. If you are expecting Deadpool-style Reynolds, you will be disappointed.
On the other hand, Jackson seems to be playing a grating caricature of himself. The crazy, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants character has some fun moments, especially whenever his equally deranged wife Sonia is involved. But there are times when Kincaid becomes grating, coming off as a writer’s idea of what a Jackson character would be. He’s loud, crude, and cocky in a less than charming manner. There are times when you wish he would listen to Bryce’s pleas to “shut the f*** up.”
Both characters have some interesting backstories involving their love lives, but they feel shoe horned in. Salma Hayek has some fun scenes, but Elodie Yung’s Amelia is incredibly bland. You can see how Sonia and Kincaid are drawn to each other…you never understand why the wry Bryce would fall for the dutiful Amelia other than her beauty. Gary Oldman rounds out the cast as the scarred antagonist…Why is scarred? Because all the cool villains have scars these days. He literally just shouts his way through the role.
While Bryce has a simple arc concerning his inability to accept responsibility, Kincaid has none. He’s basically the same crass assassin throughout. This leads to a strange lack of focus: Who is this story about? We start our perspective with Bryce, but then often switch to Kincaid’s view. Given how grating Kincaid can be, it’s hard to completely be on his side. The two are never completely equal, so it makes it seem like less of a buddy film and more of an uneven action comedy mashup.
Mediocrity in Action
The Hitman’s Bodyguard features some fun, but generic action sequences. A car chase through the streets of Amsterdam is a highlight. While it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, the chase is dynamic and shot well. Kincaid is a pretty unbelievable bada** at certain points.
However, like everything else in the film, the mediocrity manages to get in the way. Poor CGI is used throughout, sometimes at baffling times. Stunt doubles are obvious in many scenes. The tired cliche of murderous, top notch mercenaries suddenly forgetting how to aim whenever a main character is in the line of fire is everywhere. It becomes laughable.
There are some aspects to like in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but not enough to make it rise above being an average experience. For every step forward, the movie manages to take two steps back, sabotaging their lead characters, the action and comedy with mediocre filmmaking.
SCORE: 5 OUT OF 10