LIONSGATE FILMS (2017)
Director: Patrick Hughes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Èlodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell, Richard E. Grant
A movie with countless uses of the word “motherfucker” can only mean one thing – Sam Jackson is in town. There’s even a gag in the movie about how Jackson has made the word uncool. Meta jokes like that can only mean one thing – Ryan Reynolds is in town. A buddy cop type movie with Jackson and Reynolds should be comedy gold, the smooth Reynolds and the bombast of Jackson should be a match made in heaven.
It is. Sort of.
Harking back to the buddy cop movies of the 80s, bodyguard Bryce (Reynolds) and professional assassin Kincaid (Jackson) riff off each other as they are paired together in exceptional circumstances in order to stop a looming bad guy from completing his nefarious task. In this instance, the bad guy is Vladislav Duhkovich (Oldman), the Belarussian premier who is on trial for various war crimes. Darius Kincaid is the key to putting Duhkovich away and he needs to get from Manchester, England to The Hague, Netherlands to testify – trouble is, Duhkovich’s goons are everywhere attempting to end Kincaid and ensure their leader walks free and back to power. He’ll need someone of the highest quality to ensure he makes it in one piece.
Having lost his Triple-A rated status as a bodyguard following the assassination of one of his chief clients, Michael Bryce had been meddling about protecting ‘mid-level’ clientele (including Richard E. Grant) when he receives the call from Interpol agent/old flame Amelia Roussel (Yung) informing him of his next job and a chance of redemption. When he realises who he is protecting, he soon regrets it. Kincaid and Bryce have a long history together due to their respective talents and will somehow have to work together to complete their job and stay alive.
With the director of The Expendables 3 at the helm, the movie was never going to be short on action and gunfire and this proves to be correct. There are small skirmishes mixed in with large assaults in Coventry (!!) and a high speed boat/car/motorbike chase through Amsterdam that set the tone for half of the movies content. The gunfights are entertaining and the assault in Coventry (!!) is well-executed and bloody, however the Amsterdam chase never seemed to end and contained the obligatory “bad guys can’t hit target from 10 feet” cliché. Still, the action is well-shot and slick in its execution. The other half of the movies content was the comedy and for the most part the writing did its job in providing humorous moments and one liners. The rapport of Reynolds and Jackson was thankfully on point and their fun chemistry delivered some good moments. Having Salma Hayek take out a room full of meatheads to a backdrop of Lionel Richie will never be a bad thing either. Gary Oldman is given the opportunity at slicing some cinematic ham and seems to joyfully accept the opportunity.
As with every movie of this type ever made, the plot follows the same formula and therefore offers no surprises. Once the movie gets going, you’ll be able to plot every moment out before they happen - it’ll come as no surprise to find Bryce and Roussel were once an item and that the movie heads towards a reconciliation. The key, then, is ensuring the journey from A to B is exciting and/or full of great moments – The Hitman’s Bodyguard does a decent job of getting from end to end without anything particularly stunning occurring, it’s the aforementioned chemistry that holds everything together. Don’t expect anything new here. The running Ford car gags fall on the right side of advertising and the idea that both men will do what it takes for love is cheesy great.
There’s some wonky effects to look out for though, predominantly during the eternal Amsterdam chase as scenes are spliced together and digitally altered for ‘realism’. Some distinctly CGI looking helicopters fly over the cities too, but maybe I’m nit-picking.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is this years The Nice Guys for me, just slightly better. Both movies have great double acts leading from the front and are packed with action, however the latter had rotten writing and pacing whereas the former is slightly more organised in its (generic) approach. If it weren’t for Reynolds and Jackson, the movie would’ve burnt on the scrapheap, however they manage to save a thin story and salvage an entire movie.
Remember, when life gives you shit, you make Kool-Aid…or something along those lines.
August 28th 2017