THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD (4 out of 10) Directed by Patrick Hughes; Written by Tom O'Connor; Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, and Gary Oldman; Rated R for strong violence and language throughout; Running time 118 minutes; In wide release Aug 18, 2017.
Whenever a movie comes out of nowhere and changes the landscape of Hollywood, movie studios always make the wrong assumptions on how to emulate that formula and apply it ad nauseam to their newest efforts. With the success of Deadpool, more films that feature over-the-top violence and vulgarity have been on the rise to cash in on that film’s success. And unfortunately, that’s all that Hitman’s Bodyguard ends up being – a futile cash grab that can’t stand on its own merits.
Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is a “triple-A” rated protection agent whose business and life are sent into shambles after losing a high-profile arms dealer who was under his wing. Years later, he finally gets his shot at redemption by unwillingly having to keep hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), safe until he can be delivered to the International Court of Justice. Kincaid’s testimony is necessary to convict Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), a ruthless Eastern European dictator, of war crimes, but they must overcome an army of assailants to reach the court in time with the evidence.
One of the worst things about this movie is that I went in really rooting for it. The trailers have all been fantastically funny, and the chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson should have easily been able to carry the film even through any low points. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. It becomes painfully obvious that all the best parts were added to the trailers, so once finally experiencing it, the audience already knows all the best punch lines and where the funniest sight gags are.
Oh, and speaking of humor. I love a good raunchy comedy that wears its R rating on its sleeve. But it has to be at least smart about it and not so self-aware that it’s constantly winking at the audience every time someone says something dirty, which is just what Bodyguard does. There’s a line in the trailer where Reynolds says, “He actually made me hate the word ‘mother-f’er’,” and that’s about how everyone is going to feel by the time the credits roll. Yes, we are aware that Sam Jackson is known for using that phrase. Throwing it in every five minutes makes it feel like we are watching a 10 year-old learn how to swear, and that’s just not funny. I probably laughed a total of four times the whole way through and that was only because of Salma Hayek’s Sonia Kincaid, who easily gives her husband a run for his money throughout the proceedings.
I will give it points for at least having some interesting and well-choreographed action scenes. Director Patrick Hughes previously did Expendables 3, and this film is shot very similarly to that, just not nearly as interesting. And that’s what’s so frustrating about it is because this is an interesting idea, and it’s easy to see that in the right director and screenwriter’s hands, this could have been a lot of fun! With John Wick, Atomic Blonde and, yes, Deadpool, we’ve seen that we can have intense action films that have heart and deliver on the violence. It’s a shame Bodyguard couldn’t have been under a better filmmaker’s care.
There is nothing worse than having your hopes stepped on, and Hitman’s Bodyguard does that in spades. A fun idea that should have been a rollicking blast merely stumbles around in a daze and never even tries to find its footing. Which is a shame because it had all the ingredients necessary to be a summer blockbuster. Instead, it’s just another reminder that August is still the month when studios dump the films they don’t have any faith in, and with this one, it’s easy to see why they didn’t.
4 out of 10