*Warning: Potential Spoilers*
There are some movies where the story is so simple, so cliché, that the only way you could justify seeing them (or making them) is that you have assembled the perfect cast to make it fresh and fun without needing new material. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is one of these movies – you can see the ending coming a mile off, you know the twists before they happen (and honestly it’s a little surprising that the characters can’t see right through them either), and while it is fun to watch, there is only one real reason that the movie works, and that is the cast. The studio picked the perfect time to put the film out and had the perfect people all lined up to make even the most obvious jokes seem funny again. So, while perhaps not totally worth the $10 theater fee you might pay, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is excellent for a fun night in (or out) and you can be sure that the talent of the film will keep you entertained, even if you know exactly what’s coming.
Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) was the top bodyguard in the world, triple A rated, until a seedy client was killed on his watch. Since then he has been taking low grade jobs at the bottom of the pit. When former dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) is set to be tried before the International Court of Justice for his tyranny, the only witness who can prove his guilt turns out to be Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), one of the best hitmen in the world. Kincaid agrees to rat out Dukhovich to get his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) released from prison, but Dukhovich is determined to kill anyone who could testify against him. The FBI turns to Bryce to keep Kincaid alive, and the two clash over their talents and ethics as they work to get Kincaid to court before the case is dismissed entirely.
As I’ve said, there isn’t much about this movie that is original or fresh, so it really needed the absolute perfect cast in order to pull it off. Thankfully, it did have that perfect cast – of course, the idea of Samuel L. Jackson being the best hitman in the world isn’t hard to fathom, and it’s the perfect role for him to let loose his dry sense of humor and matter-of-fact rudeness that is still somehow nice to listen to, including plenty of chances for him to let the “mf” bomb fly freely. Pair that with the idea of baby-faced Ryan Reynolds attempting to protect this badass (even when he’s just as snarky and foul-mouthed) and it seems as though this movie could not have happened without those two leads. They are not the only noteworthy performances, of course – Hayek’s violent and loving match with Jackson as a husband and wife pair is surprisingly touching during scenes like their one phone call from jail where Jackson sings their song, or when he leaves her a bouquet of flowers outside the clock tower across from her jail cell. If anything, I would have loved to see more of Hayek, since she is portrayed to be a badass in her own right and we only get one scene of it, when she and Jackson meet for the first time. After that she is in jail and limited entirely to verbal abuse, when it would have been so much fun to see her in the center of the action with Jackson and Reynolds, maybe even saving their butts, which I could definitely see happening with her talents. Oldman’s genocidal tyrant fell a little flat though – his character was as stereotypical as the two “heroes”, but he didn’t have anyone fun to play off of in order to make up for it, so it was hard to actually take him seriously as a villain. He was mostly a means to an end, which may have been the only downside to the final act of the show – you don’t care enough to see him get his comeuppance.
There were a few technical issues, perhaps that could be made up for depending on your specific theater, but still annoying when watching the film. The music chosen for the film sets the right tone, but there were several moments where the crew just didn’t know how to handle that sound. At several points in the beginning of the film, the music overpowers the dialogue so much that you can barely hear what the characters are saying – of course, it’s the beginning of the film so the quips aren’t flying nearly as much as they will later, but it’s still very annoying – and those sound problems set the tone for some of the antics later on. Though eventually the music is drawn back (slightly) so that the lines can be heard from the actors, it seems rather odd to be playing such over-the-top music that it covers up the dialogue the film obviously thrives on. This film also falls into the trap where all the fight and chase scenes are incredibly shaky and cut so rapidly that it is easy to lose track of who is where and sometimes even what is happening, all in the name of some tension. This doesn’t always have to be a bad thing though – the boat chase on the canal was incredibly fun, and the fact that Jackson and Reynolds always seemed to be enjoying themselves (even when screaming their heads off at each other) made the rest of the drawbacks seem smaller in comparison. The third act of the movie generally is a great time, enough fun that you wonder why it took so long for our characters to get there (other than the plot, of course). If the runtime had been cut down just a bit, spending more time in the final stage than leading up to it, the movie’s overall quality might have been raised slightly. There are a few jokes that didn’t land quite as well as others, and those could easily have been sacrificed for a slightly shorter runtime and a slight hike in quality in that time. Again, though, Reynolds and Jackson seem to be enjoying themselves so much, do you really want to be the ones to tell them to stop riffing for the camera?
At the end of the day, this movie is not about being great, or new. It’s about letting two fun actors enjoy themselves and, in doing so, entertain us as an audience. We are definitely entertained.
3 / 5
I will argue with Reynolds on one thing – there is no way that Jackson can ruin motherf*cker for you.