The Hitman's Bodyguard ** ½ / *****
Directed by: Patrick Hughes.
Written by: Tom O'Connor.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (Darius Kincaid), Ryan Reynolds (Michael Bryce), Elodie Yung (Amelia Roussel), Gary Oldman (Vladislav Dukhovich), Salma Hayek (Sonia Kincaid), Richard E. Grant (Seifert), Rod Hallett (Professor Asimov), Michael Gor (Livitin), Barry Atsma (Moreno), Kirsty Mitchell (Harr), Tine Joustra (Renata Casoria), Sam Hazeldine (Garrett), Joaquim de Almeida (Jean Foucher).
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is one of those lazy, late summer programmers that studios release in theaters hoping that the film will make some money on the strength of its stars. It’s not precisely a good movie – and it certainly wears out its welcome well before it ends – but it is the type of film that you can go into and have fun for a while – as long as you don’t think about any of it. The film coasts along, allowing Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds to essentially do what they do for its entire runtime, which, fine, is fun for a while. What’s a little less fun is having your villain being a genocidal madman dictator from a former USSR country, and have a major plot point involve driving a giant truck into a crowd of people – but hey, those are two of those things you cannot think about during the runtime of the movie if you want to have fun.
In the film, Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, once an elite bodyguard, working for the best clientele – who is now desperately trying to get back to the level he had two years ago when he lost a big client. Jackson is Darius Kincaid, an international hitman, in the custody of Interpol, who is needed at the Hague to testify against Belarussian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) or else he’ll go free, and go right back to his regime built on ethnic cleansing. For some reason, Kincaid needs to be at The Hague by 5:00pm two days away, or else his testimony is useless. When Interpol’s first attempt to get him there goes horribly awry, Agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) calls Michael – her ex-boyfriend – and trusts him to get Kincaid there. Along the way, there is a race to see if Jackson is going to say motherfucker more times than he shoots people in the head – and I think it’s pretty much neck and neck.
Both Jackson and Reynolds could play these smart alecky roles in their sleep – but they don’t – they seem to be having fun playing off each other in a love/hate relationship. And for a time, I had fun watching them. There does come a time when you wish they had something more to do than what the films gives them – but what can you do? Salma Hayek has fun too as Kincaid’s wife, who also likes to say motherfucker a lot – and does so with great aplomb. Gary Oldman eats all the scenery he can find as the dictator – but at least he doesn’t seem bored. I really do wish they gave Yung something to do rather than be the nagging ex-girlfriend.
There isn’t much to say about a movie like this. It is lazily written and directed, provides some entertaining moments, and gets out before you become too bored. It’s a parking lot movie to be sure – you will forget all about by the time you hit the parking lot – but it’s not a bad one. It’s just that it’s not really a good one either – and with this much talent in front of the cameras, it should have been.