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The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Movie Review

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

A strong logline on a spec script and a pair of marketable leads can sometimes be enough to get a film produced. The Hitman’s Bodyguard has a promising premise and the potential chemistry of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson to work in its favour and yet the film doesn’t take full advantage and has a noticeably cheap feel. Director Patrick Hughes has more of an action background and it shows in the final product as fast-paced action scenes take precedent over comedy. A couple of laughs register, but not enough to make this anything more than run-of-the-mill late summer fare. Were it not for the two stars, this would have been sent straight to video-on-demand.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s biggest strength comes from uniting Reynolds and Jackson. They share a certain spark missing from the rest of the film and slightly elevate the material. Reynolds showcases some of his trademark wry humour and doesn’t look like he’s reprising Deadpool. Jackson flings about his profanity-laced dialogue like there’s no tomorrow and is clearly enjoying himself. It’s a shame the dialogue isn’t just a tad more smart. A lot of jokes are based around how many f-bombs screenwriter Tom O’Connor can give to Jackson. At one point, Reynolds bemoans how the “motherf—er” explicit has lost all meaning after hanging out with Jackson and it’s not hard to sympathise. Salma Hayek’s entire purpose is to sit in a cell and shout profanity, both in English and Spanish. Some of the bigger laughs come from Richard E. Grant’s short appearance early on.

Patrick Hughes brings some flair to the action scenes and seems more preoccupied with delivering on that aspect. He doesn’t re-write the action film playbook, but he at least keeps the camera focused a lot more than in The Expendables 3. What is most disappointing about the script is how it doesn’t take advantage of the European locale. A good chunk of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is set in the Netherlands, not the usual location for an action film. Yet the film could have been set anywhere and made little difference. Setting it in Amsterdam and the Hague could have added a lot of material and the filmmakers lose many joke opportunities. There’s probably one line in Dutch in the entire movie, which leads one to believe the decision to set it in Holland was at the last minute.

Gary Oldman has a role as a dictator on trial, but he mostly exists as a catalyst to jump-start the plot. Until the end, these scenes belong in a entirely different film and the script jumps through hoops to connect the two. Elodie Yung has a mostly thankless role as an Interpol agent, who spends a good chunk of her screen time on the phone and sharing little romantic chemistry with Reynolds. The simple plot cannot justify the almost two hour runtime and The Hitman’s Bodyguard begins to run out of steam by the third act. Reynolds and Jackson bickering can only sustain for so long.

It’s a shame The Hitman’s Bodyguard doesn’t give Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and the Netherlands more to do. This feels like a prime combination for a funny and unique action comedy. However, the script goes through the expected paces and doesn’t strive to bring anything out of the ordinary to the table. The film glides from comedy scene to action set-piece to comedy scene to action set-piece with little control over the profanity. It seems prickly to take issue with the language, but any spice is gone when it’s flailed around nonchalantly. A lot more unforgivable is the film not using its Dutch locale. If this was a James Bond film, the lack of culture would be rightfully criticised. You can’t just throw in a couple of windmills and expect the final film to hold together.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison