The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) Review
REYNOLDS AND JACKSON SHINE
IN THIS OTHERWISE DULL MOVIE
The “buddy cop” genre of films has been awhile for quite some time. While it doesn’t redefine the main staple genres of motion pictures (i.e. action, comedy, drama, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc.), this subgenre category of films was popular during the mid to late 80s and early 90s, with such films like Die Hard, Point Break, Lethal Weapon, and Beverly Hills Cops amongst many others. Eventually, the genre, which was heavily focused on more grittier action and drama, switched to a comedic side, producing raunchier R-rated comedies pieces like The Heat, 21 Jump Street, Ride Along, and Hot Pursuit, and CHiPs. Now, Millennial Films, Lionsgate Films, and director Patrick Hughes present the newest iteration of the buddy cop genre with the movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Does this film rise to the challenge and change up the status quo of these particular motion pictures or does it fall into formulaic pit of predictability?
Years ago, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) was a triple A-rated executive protection agent, living the easy life with his safe and secure job position. He had it all and was enjoying it. Unfortunately, all the changes when one of his clients is killed under his protection. Two years later, Michael has lost everything, including his girlfriend Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) and his precious triple A-rating statues as he’s resorted to protecting anyone who will hire him. Meanwhile, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), is a professional hitman who made a few past mistakes and lands himself in Interpol’s custody. However, Interpol is ready to make an offer to Darius by protecting his incarcerated wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), in return for a testimony against the President of Belarus, the notorious dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), who is standing on trial in international court. Tasked with babysitting Darius in exchange for his reinstatement of being a triple A status, Michael is reunited with the convicted hitman (the two have a history), forced to set aside their hostiles for each other as they journey across Europe to get Darius to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherland to testify. However, Dukhovich’s reach extends across Europe as sends his enforcers to try to intercept the pair from reaching the Netherlands. That is, unless Michael and Darius don’t kill each other in the process.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
As stated above, the various angles of the popular buddy cop films have been played out and reimagined year after year. Heck, it seems like there’s at least one (possibly even two) that comes out everywhere. 2017 already saw its first one with the movie CHiPS, action comedy reboot / reimagining of the once popular TV show, but that film fell particular hard and failed to impress fans of the TV show and even with modern viewers of the buddy cop. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the latest endeavor in the “buddy cop” genre. I do remember seeing the trailers for this movie in theaters and, despite the teaser trailer using the Whitney Houston song “I will Always Love You” from the movie The Bodyguard, the movie just look generic to me. Thus, when the movie got released, I decided not to see the movie immediately as I pursed to watch other feature films that peaked my interest more. Now, that I have free time and I saw most of the movies I wanted to see in theaters, I decided to finally watch The Hitman’s Bodyguard. So, what did I think of it? Well, I didn’t have expectations for this movie and (unfortunately) the movie didn’t even meet my already low expectations for it. Basically, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is mainly a vehicle for Reynolds and Jackson to perform in as the film’s two main title characters…. everything is just unremarkable and unmemorable.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is directed by Patrick Hughes, who’s in known for directing other films such as Red Hill and The Expendables 3. With his recent endeavor being The Expendable 3, a self-aware and over-the-top action flick with numerous big-named action stars, Hughes takes that certain approach when crafting this particular movie as The Hitman’s Bodyguard stages a lot of action set pieces and sequences, which includes various action chases nuances (car chase, boat chase, motorcycle, etc.) as well as some close-quarter fighting (gun shootouts and brawling). Additionally, just as to be expected, the movie shows off the different styles between Michael and Darius, with the hitman being more flashy, deadly and taking the direct approach in comparison to the bodyguard who is more focused on stealth and protection. Primarily, it’s fun combination that Hughes presents, setting the movie stage for an odd couple pairing of “buddy cop” angle (except it’s with hitman and a bodyguard). Filmmaking wise, the movie is adequately made, with everything consisting of costumes, production design, film editing, cinematography, and even the music is even keel and not much to rave about. So, it’s basically somewhere in the middle, which neither good or bad…. just mediocre.
Unfortunately, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is far from being a perfect film, with several large problems that do arise that make it bland and almost boring to watch. For starters, the film’s action is, for a lack of a better term, run-of-the-mill. Basically, these sequences are staged well and some do manage to be a little bit creative, but most fail to deliver in execution and excitement. To be truthfully, the film actually has too many small action sequences as the film’s goes into a sort of repetitive cycle of sort, beginning with some narrative beats, then some back-and-forth witty banter between Michael and Darius, then some action, and then the cycle begins again. It follows that regiment for most of the film’s runtime, which already too long and clocking two minutes under two hours long. This, of course, makes the movie stale and formulaic.
This harkens back to the film’s main problem, which is the script. Written by screenplay writer Tom O’Connor, who’s only film writing credit is to the 2012 film Fire with Fire, presents several interesting ideas in the movie, but those ideas take a back seat for most of the movie, which is more focused on its action and comedy aspects. Even the story itself is a little bit vague and following a familiar generic path of two different individuals that have to come to together (putting aside their differences) to stop a bad guy. Basically, O’Connor (and by extension Hughes) hits all the necessary troupes and beats found within an action / comedy “buddy cop” film, but really doesn’t make The Hitman’s Bodyguard come into its own as it lingers too much into the shadows of others similar films. Additionally, the movie’s script also tries to paint a picture of who’s the “good guy” of the two (i.e. the hitman or the bodyguard), but the film doesn’t reach a satisfying conclusion on this posed question as Hughes just spend most of the feature in either comedy banter between Michael and Darius or putting those two characters in some type of action scene. Again, this is due to the film’s weak script.
Perhaps where the movie shines the best (and brightest) is found within “odd couple” dynamics between Michael Bryce and Darius Kincaid. Of course, this is not so much credited to the film’s screenplay or written dialogue, but rather to the charismatic duo of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in playing their respective characters. Reynolds, known for his roles in Deadpool, The Proposal, and Green Lantern (yes, that bad one that he did), does seem perfect as the straight-laced / straight-man, by-the-book bodyguard, while Jackson, known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight, and The Negotiator, excels as the wilder and “shoot first, talk later” free-wheeling man that has a soft spot in his moral code. Respectfully, both actors can handle comedic dialogue in their delivery of lines and it certainly does show that in the movie, but, like I said above, their characters arc are, for the most part, pretty straightforward clichés that are found within the “buddy cop” genre. It also doesn’t help that screenplay does limit their character development into a somewhat “cookie cutter” model of their respective characters, making the well-roundness of Michael and Darius a bit on the flat side of things. Still, both Reynolds and Jackson have proven (many times) that he each one can do great work within action and / or comedy. Thus, it comes as no surprise that they both excel (and almost complement each other) in The Hitman’s Bodyguard and perhaps, thanks to their on-screen presence and chemistry, produces the most laughs in the entire film.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, despite most of them being recognizable from their other projects, are generally flat, one-note stock character that fill in the side / supporting ranks. The characters of Amelia and Sonia, the film’s two female love interest, are, more or less, represented to had extra weight of “fluff” to the movie’s two main characters. Of the two, the character of Amelia, played by Elodie Yung, is more developed in the movie. Known for his roles in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gods of Egypt, and Daredevil, Yung has a stronger representation in the film as an Interpol agent, and Michael’s ex-girlfriend. Still, her character isn’t that quite revolutionary, which hinders Yung’s portrayal of Amelia. Unfortunately, the character of Sonia Kincaid, who is played by Salma Hayek, is more one-dimensional. Known for her roles in Frida, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Hayek is humorous as the feisty (and foul-mouthed) Sonia, but her character is really unnecessary to the film’s narrative. Yes, she’s Darius’s wife, but there’s really no point of her character in the movie beyond that reasoning. Thus, Sonia (as a whole) is superfluous to the film, despite being played by the beautiful Salma Hayek. All in all, both female leads are just feigned half-hearted attempts that are only presented as an unimportant side / supporting characters.
As for the film’s baddie, seasoned actor Gary Oldman, known for his roles in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and the upcoming film The Darkest Hour, plays the part of villainous Dukhovich. While Oldman is a very talented actor, the character of Dukhovich is a very flat villain. The character shows off all the right amount “villainy” of an evil dictator, but the character itself is extremely one-dimensional that it comes off of being too cliché. In truth, the movie never really fully explains why Dukhovich is even on trial to begin with. I guess for just being an evil dictator? Oldman brings all his theatrical gravitas to his role, but even a talented individual such as himself can’t help this paper thin written character, which comes off as a generic puppet master to propel the film’s events forward, from being interesting and / or memorable. Other noteworthy actor (aka familiar faces) in small supporting roles, include Yuri Kolokolnikov (Game of Thrones and Transporter Refueled) as Dukhovich head thug goon Ivan, Rod Hallett (The Tudors and Anna) as Professor Asimov, Joaquim de Almeida (Fast Five and Our Brand is Crisis) as the Assistant Director of Interpol Jean Foucher, and Richard E. Grant (Doctor Who and Logan) as the drug-addicted corporate executive named Mr. Seifert.
Reynolds and Jackson team up together as an unlikely pair of bodyguard and hitman counterparts in the movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Director Patrick Hughes newest film presents another shade to the well-familiar action-comedy romps to the “buddy cop” genre, using the on-screen presences / charisma of Reynolds and Jackson as the primary focus for the feature. Unfortunately, beyond the two leads, the rest of movie doesn’t have that much to offer, which comes off as being a generic and clichéd action-comedy endeavor; complete with a weak story, a lackluster execution in action, an unmemorable villain, and flat side characters. Personally, I thought this movie was pretty “meh” and disappointing. To be fair, I wasn’t super psyched to see this movie, but the film just didn’t have that many things to like beyond the two lead performances. So, my recommendation for this movie is definitely a “skip it”. It’s not worth seeing in theaters and / or buying later on home release (physical or digital copy) as I suspect it will be on TV sometime in the coming years (if you still want to see the movie). However, at the end of the day, with not much sustain power at being memorable or entertaining, The Hitman’s Bodyguard will most likely fade into the background in the plethora movie releases of 2017. In short, Reynolds and Jackson shine in this otherwise dull “buddy cop” movie.
2.3 Out of 5 (Skip It)
Released On: August 18th, 2017
Reviewed On: October 3rd, 2017
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is 118 minutes long and is rated R for strong violence and language throughout