Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard - Movie Review

Coming in as a late summer action-comedy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard follows Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a bodyguard in disgrace after a top client of his was assassinated, who gets the chance to redeem himself by escorting notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) from England to The Hague where he will serve as a key witness in the trial against Belarussian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). As Bryce and Kincaid have confronted each other in the past they have a naturally adversarial reaction to each other but they soon realise that they have to work together in order to survive the trip and bring down Dukhovich.

The majority of the successes that The Hitman’s Bodyguard achieve are as a result of the very strong work of Reynolds and Jackson. Both of them banter along together with great enthusiasm, having a very fun chemistry as they bicker and argue and their individual personalities meld together very well. Reynolds plays the sarcastic and uptight character very well, being by the book and a bit anal, and manages to wring quite a bit of humour out of the over seriousness of the character. Jackson meanwhile never fails to be full of charisma as he manages to be both badass and hilarious with the crazy and twisted mannerisms of Kincaid. This helps the film to become rather enjoyable. Additionally the action scenes in the film are solid, with some exciting car chases and shootouts that are often accompanied alongside great soundtracks, and a good number of the jokes work, which again succeeds thanks to the great work of Reynolds and Jackson.

But The Hitman’s Bodyguard is far from brilliant. The plot is very predictable – you know all the plot beats that will play out, as you know that Bryce and Kincaid will come closer together along the course of the movie, have some big revelation that drives them apart and then come back together for the finale. There aren’t many surprises which leads to the film to be a little rote in places. The subplot between Bryce and his former partner Roussel (Elodie Yung) is very boring to watch; their arguments bring down the pace of the film with how miserable they are and once again you know how their subplot will end. Oldman meanwhile appears to be in a different film altogether as the crazed Belarussian dictator; he gets no jokes and the film swerves into becoming oddly brutal and dramatic whenever he’s on. It makes you wonder what a film about a Belarussian dictator being overthrown would have been like. Some characters feel rather wasted, in particular a coked up executive (Richard E. Grant) who Bryce protects in an opening scene and never shows up again – a shame given the brilliance of Grant. Not all the humour works and there’s some jokes that fall into the annoyingly juvenile. And the film has a serious problem with being bloated – the film looks like it’s about to end but there turns out to be a whole second climax which leads to The Hitman’s Bodyguard wearing out its welcome quite a bit.

Ultimately The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an OK little action-comedy that’s propped up a lot by the work of Jackson and Reynolds. Had they not been starred in this, the film may have been much less memorable but they manage to work with the predictable material and bring it up a few notches. The action’s good for the most part and there are some alright jokes but they can’t mask over the fact that the whole film is riding on the coattails of the charisma of the lead actors.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – directed by Patrick Hughes, written by Tom O’Connor, produced by David Ellison, Mark Gill, Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson and Les Weldon. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell and Richard E. Grant. A Millennium Films/Cristal Pictures production, a Lionsgate film

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