When I saw the trailer for “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” I thought, “This looks like fun, sort of like “Starsky & Hutch” but noisier and with fewer bellbottoms.”
Here’s the thing about trailers, THEY LIE. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is occasionally fun, but it’s also very violent. But, we love our violence as the movie has been #1 at the box office for three weeks, yes those were three of the lowest grossing box office weeks in the past 10 years, but still.
The movie’s title pretty much describes the plot. Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a once “Triple A Rated” executive protection agent is, after a botched gig, not doing so well. But because he’s so under the radar, his ex-girlfriend, an Interpol agent in a bind, hires him to bring a witness to the war crimes trial of a super evil dictator. That witness happens to be hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), who not only has taken out more than 200 people but also tried to kill Michael 28 times. Now Bryce has 24 hours to get Kincaid from England to The Hague. Let the bromance begin.
Ahh, but the dictator, (a super creepy Gary Oldman), who we see in flashback gleefully killing a man’s wife and child in front of him, has literally an endless number of ruthless bad guys on the street. Their job is to kill Kincaid, as they’ve killed all the witnesses before him.
This leads up to many scenes of excessive violence, torture and a very uncomfortable scene of vehicles running into a crowd at an outdoor market. Of course the movie was made before recent attacks in England and Spain, but this literally made me squirm.
The best part of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” is the hitman and the bodyguard. Ryan Reynolds brings his “Deadpool” snarkiness to the role of a slightly shady guy trying to crawl back up the corporate food chain. And Jackson, well he’s giving everything you want from a Samuel L. Jackson role. Swearing? Check. Weapon accuracy? Check. Unique philosophy and advice to the lovelorn? Uhhh check. He’s even cool in a silly scene where the pair hitch a ride with a bus full of singing Italian nuns. Yes you read that right.
The smartest thing about Tom O’Connor’s not-so-smart script is that Kincaid isn’t testifying for his own benefit He’s going to jail either way. He’s willing to risk his life for his wife who is also in custody. Salma Hayek deserves her own movie (The Hitman’s Wife”?) as the tough, sexy and scary spouse. The only problem is we don’t get enough of her.
Director Patrick Hughes gets as much as he can from the leads and Hayek and he stages an impressive if over-long chase scene involving boats and motorcycles in Amsterdam, but the film is much too uneven. Violent and sadistic one moment and lighthearted and fun, the next. The movie has too much going on. The villain doesn’t have to be that over the top, the body count doesn’t have to be that high and do we really need a torture scene? It’s too bad because Reynolds and Jackson are great together. I just wish “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” was the same movie as the one I saw in the trailer. Maybe they’ll get it right in the sequel.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard: 2 STARS (out of 5)