There’s some positive aspects to “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” that I wish I could devote this review to discussing — the action sequences that relied on a heavy dose of practical effects; the updated take on the tried-and-true frenemies journey that the bickering main characters must march down; even the ongoing romantic & relational shortcomings of the main cast of characters – but at the most basic level, the mixture of obvious plot beats & progression, unfunny dialogue, and non-stakes building action combined to make the entire two hour run time of this film feel mostly bland and forgettable.
Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is the devil-may-care, tell-it-like-it-is crazy hit-man who must make it to the “trial of the century” to provide the incriminating evidence needed to bring the genocidal Belarusian tyrant Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) to justice.
Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds,) is the “triple-A rated” uptight, overly-prepared bodyguard (who non-surprisingly doesn’t actually end up having all the answers) providing his services and hoping to somehow get his “elite” rating back after losing it during a job that went sour in years prior. He is hired by his former amante turned Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), since there really is just nobody else that can be trusted!
The primary feeling I had after watching the film was that throughout the action, throughout the dialogue, throughout the romances and relationships of the characters, almost no stakes were provided. If any stakes had been there for me (and considering the talent involved and the mostly effective cinematography), this film could have been a potentially standout experience.
Both Samuel Jackson and Ryan Reynolds (and the majority of the cast, with the exception of Gary Oldman who felt a bit too unbelievable in the role) do a decent enough job, but the two of them feel as if they were giving maybe fifty percent of their true acting chops and signature style.
The one-liners and tension between them and the cast could have been fun, but most of the film dialogue felt predictable and had too little heart. They felt more like new buddy’s just looking to throw a bit of shade at each other rather than having any actual grievances.
Additionally, their relationship felt like it could have used more of a father/son dynamic and less of a “who’s the best at…” vibe.
I could have also seen good things coming from adding Amelia to the travel mix to keep the relational and romantic tensions high and provide something to overcome during the trip beyond just “getting there.”
For the action, a couple good set pieces/scenes do exist (the tool shop fight, and the big car chase through Amsterdam in particular), but the rest felt mostly bland and borderline staged.
Also, for a film that heavily discusses and operates in a world of hitmen, espionage, and government security agencies, one would expect a few plot twists here or there. Outside of the obvious and mostly unimportant reveal of who really messed up Michael’s big job, and us quickly finding out who was betraying Interpol (also very obvious and with no apparent deeper reason other than “money”) there was more or less nothing of the sort.
On the positive side, the romance between Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) and Darius is a highlight, and out of all the aspects of the script felt the most original and interesting to me.
Also, the film had a bit of heart that played out through the relationship between Darius and Michael. By the end of the film, you generally get the sense that they liked each other, but sadly not the sense that you should care if they did or did not.
In totality, this film could have used a more present threat, a bit of originality in the dialogue and action*, and more palpable stakes. There was too much film, and not enough fun, originality, or even a taste of the self-referential treatment Ryan Reynolds is so well known for and which could have aided this film greatly.
An additional side note, can we please lose the Wilhelm scream already folks? How do sound editors not rebel or threaten to quit on the spot at this point when requested to make use of it?
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” – C-/71
Co-Host of The Reel Review
*A few minor examples of the unoriginal action ruining the stakes:
– The entire back of a car catching fire when shot by a handgun.
– Bad guys popping out of nowhere only to get immediately shot & killed.
– A nearly impossible leap to safety from a tall building into scaffolding/trash bins.
Director: Patrick Hughes
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida
Rating: R, for strong violence and language throughout
Running Time: 1h 58m
Genre(s): Action & Adventure, Comedy
Studio: Summit Entertainment