UK Release Date: 18th August 2017
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: Patrick Hughes
Writer: Tom O’Connor
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Élodie Yung, Salma Hayek, Gary Oldman, Richard E Grant
Synopsis: A talented former ‘protection agent’ who is now conducting his business with minor criminals is brought in to get a hitman to the Hague, where he is due to testify in the trial of a dictator.
Once upon a time, The Hitman’s Bodyguard was, by all accounts, a good movie. The film’s script made its way on to the 2011 Black List of unproduced screenplays as a serious, hard-edged action drama. According to the film’s star Ryan Reynolds, it was a “frantic” two-week rewrite just before filming that transformed the story into the wise-cracking comedy that has made its way into cinemas. Never has a hasty rewrite been so evident in a finished piece of work as it is in this nonsensical, bloated mess that takes the worst tics of its leads and amplifies them into a sickening cacophony of profanity and gunfire.
Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) is under the protection of Interpol agent Amelia (Élodie Yung), who has been charged with moving him from Britain to Holland, where he will be a star witness in the case against murderous Belarusian dictator Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Kincaid’s wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) is being imprisoned in Holland to keep her husband in line. When violence erupts in Coventry and Kincaid is split from his team of protectors, Amelia enlists former high-level protection agent Michael Bryce (Reynolds) to complete the journey and get Kincaid to the court on time.
In a world where the enemies-turned-friends buddy movie is a hackneyed cliché, there isn’t much to help The Hitman’s Bodyguard stand out. The only thing that makes Expendables 3 director Patrick Hughes‘s film notable is how badly it’s made, with lens flare and poor lighting creating a distracting visual mush, which isn’t helped by dodgy CGI work in some of the chase sequences. It’s a visually flat movie that throws in empty spectacle in an attempt to distract from its pitiful jabs at comedy.
On paper, the notion of a Jackson and Reynolds buddy movie sounds like a potential recipe for cinematic fun. In The Hitman’s Bodyguard, however, we simply get Reynolds playing Deadpool without the suit and Jackson saying “motherfucker” so many times they even throw in a line of dialogue to justify the frequency of his desperately unoriginal cursing. This is two actors with defined shtick simply playing that shtick until they’re red in the face and hoping that’s enough. It isn’t. Gary Oldman is similarly wasted doing one of his low-tier villainous roles, where he does a funny accent and not much else.
The last-minute spritz of the script seems to have transformed the film into a bloated, overweight blob. The comedy and action exist almost entirely separately to each other and sit very awkwardly when they do intersect. There are at least two or three big chase scenes too many and the ‘ticking clock’ device of the courtroom deadline is laughable in its implausibility. A climactic scene sees characters literally staring at watches and clocks in the Hague, as if a globally significant war crimes trial could be scuppered if a witness were to miss their bus.
In lieu of a compelling plot or a decent array of jokes, The Hitman’s Bodyguard simply indulges in broad caricatures and route-one humour. Salma Hayek’s character is a hideously misjudged caricature of a bolshy Hispanic woman, while Oldman’s take on an Eastern European bogeyman is bathed in offensive stereotyping that would be out of place in a 1960s Bond movie. The film feels like a cobbled-together mess, desperately chasing box office dollars and hoping no one notices that it’s cynical shlock of the laziest kind.
Pop or Poop?
It might once have been an interesting idea, but the Hollywood machine has smoothed off all of the edges and intrigue of The Hitman’s Bodyguard. The result is a generic, larky action-comedy with blokes in cars insulting each other’s manhoods and under-written women flitting in and out as the plot deems necessary.
With the acting talent involved, this should have been a slam dunk, but the ill-disciplined final product should have been taken back to the drawing board almost immediately – or tossed into the nearest rubbish bin, never to be seen again.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.