With the summer blockbuster season over, sometimes we choose a movie just because there is nothing better to watch. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is one of the most widely panned movies of the summer, yet some audiences still prefer this shamelessly violent and offensive action comedy to many of the newly released features.
Director Patrick Hughes (“Expendables 3”) presents another round of the familiar buddy picture formula. Here, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds “Deadpool”) the straight-laced white guy in a Brooks Brothers suit must guard the brash, wisecracking assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), as a witness against a villainous tyrant (Gary Oldman).
Kincaid is loud, profane and obnoxious. This isn’t much of a stretch for Jackson, as this pretty much defines his career. The guy is a bull carrying his own china shop. Sadly, Jackson’s act is getting a little stale and he’s actually becoming a cliché of himself. However, this time of the year, audiences are less discriminating, no pun intended.
The weak script from Tom O’Connor (“Fire with Fire”) is filled with the most offensive expletives, even for Hollywood. The studio reports Jackson alone utters 122 obscenities during this film, while Reynolds and Selma Hayak, as Jackson’s wife Sonia, are not far behind. The audience quickly becomes jaded by the use of hard consonant vulgarities.
Realizing this movie wasn’t going to work as a drama, several weeks prior to filming, the script underwent a frantic two-week rewrite to a make it a comedy. Wise choice, as this whole mess is a joke. While the movie is insulting and a waste of time for most, for others, the action, jokes and strong personalities make it effective as a guilty pleasure.
The story begins when Bryce, the world’s top protection agent has a new client, his worst enemy. When ruined by the assassination of his most elite client, Bryce is asked by desperate Interpol Agent Amelia Roussel (French-Camodian actress Elodie Yung) to escort Kincaid to the International Court of Justice as the prosecution’s key witness.
Although former enemies, Bryce and Kincaid must set aside their differences and work together, so they can run the gauntlet of mobsters and assassins assigned to kill them before the trial begins. Bryce instructs, “My job is to keep you out of harm’s way.” The sarcastic Kincaid responds, “I am harm’s way!”
After the somewhat slow setup, the rude, shrewd and crude buddy banter barely pauses during the imaginative car chases, motorcycle chases, boat chases, foot chases as well as fight scenes, shootouts and requisite explosions. The action travels from the streets of London to the canals of Amsterdam, with stops in Belarus.
Somewhere in there, are a couple love stories, kinda. But, those are also integral to the punch lines. Our heroes get beaten, sliced and shot. But in the movies, good guys mostly get flesh wounds, or as they call it, “A through and through.” At one point, Bryce informs Kincaid, “You’ve got a speck of blood on your, uh, everywhere.”
For what it’s worth, the brainless killing sprees are mostly against, nameless, faceless (but not bloodless) bad guys. The mayhem and insults are incessant, whether fighting, shooting or chasing. The story is ridiculous, or as some say, “That’s entertainment!”
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is 118 minutes and rated R for strong violence and language. This is not a great movie, but nobody comes to this kind of movie with this kind of title for serious drama. The dialog is shocking, action a spectacle, and story predictable. However, the story is able to stay out of the way of the buddy humor and action.
Even if you hoped for more, give credit to the filmmakers for not thinking this is Academy material. They aim low and hit the mark. The sadistic brutality, high body count and offensive language in this overly long “comedy” can injure the audience’s eyes, mind and emotional well-being, while some viewers just smile and ask for more popcorn. Either way, the snarky Samuel L. Jackson asks us all once again, “What’s in your wallet?
Ron’s Rating: B-
Leigh’s Rating: D+