I went into this film not really knowing what to expect: the only trailer I saw (the teaser parodying The Bodyguard) was a bit underwhelming, the reviews were really mixed, and the almost 2-hour runtime felt too long. However, I am really glad that I checked this out, for it is one of the biggest surprises of the year.
I grew up watching plenty buddy action comedies with my dad (think Men in Black, 48 Hours, Rush Hour, Shangai Noon, and Lethal Weapon). Directed by Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3, Red Hill), and starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, and Elodie Yung, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is very much an homage of these types of movies, while also parodying many of their clichés.
Bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is hired by ex-girlfriend and Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) to escort and protect Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), world-famous assassin who agrees to testify against the dictator of Belarus Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), put on trial for crimes against humanity at the International Court of Justice.
This premise has been seen a million times before, and it qualifies as one of Hollywood’s go-to baseline for creating a movie (is it just laziness, or part of the parody?). But these buddy movies have always worked for one reason: the dynamics of the leads. That is what ultimately carries the film, and makes it a fun time at the movies. The chemistry between Jackson and Reynolds is off the roof, and they bring the biggest laughs of the movie. The rest of the cast does fine with its material (I especially liked the characters played by Elodie Yung and Salma Hayek), but there is not much focus on them. The villain (played by Gary Oldman) is surprisingly underwritten, with little to no time devoted to making him a real threat (if you exclude the obligatory “let me kill innocent people cause I’m evil” scene).
Thankfully, a story as simple and straightforward like this gives enough time to focus on the action and the comedy, and they both worked great for me. The jokes, comedic timing, and physical humor all worked great, and the action is competently made (albeit without a real style), showing that Hughes is more comfortable with R-rated violence than PG-13. There are a couple of shootouts that are quite fun, but the two chase scenes in the movie (one through the canals of Amsterdam, another on foot through a restaurant and retail store) are incredibly fun to watch and full of explosions.
Overall, The Hitman’s Bodyguard knows exactly what it is, and it embraces its campiness with over-the-top action sequences, solid humor, two great leads, obvious musical cues, and a serviceable story that left me entertained from start to finish. Not for everyone (especially depending on what you might expect), but worth watching for those who wanna have a good time.
Visual Effects: 7.5
Violence & Gore: 8.5
Sex & Nudity: 4
Drugs & Profanity: 6
Intensity & Horror: 5.5