The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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How is it Ryan Reynolds is in this and not Nicolas Cage? It totally feels like the kind of crappy buddy picture he would’ve done in the ‘90s. Or hell, in 2017.

Director Patrick Hills impressed us with Red Hill (2010) but his last movie was The Expendables 3, so that might explain the direction of his career.

Although more of the blame should be levied on Tom O’Connor (Fire with Fire) who wrote this mess.

Reynolds plays Bryce, a high-priced bodyguard that prides himself on having never lost a client. In his opening narration explaining that, he loses a Japanese arms dealer just as he gets onto a private plane. We’re supposed to believe that Bryce now has to sleep in his car and urinate into jars on crummy stakeouts to make a living. He also has to represent shady lawyers (Richard E. Grant in a fun cameo). Who knew so many people were taken out by hitmen on their way to court?

Amelia, the ex, calls Bryce when she realizes there’s a mole at INTERPOL that’s trying to kill a witness she’s bringing to court. He’s a hitman named Darius Kincaid (Samuel Jackson) that can testify in a trial against the Belarusian president (Gary Oldman) on crimes against humanity. As in all these kind of movies, there’s a deadline in which he needs to appear in court; and…these two have met before. Want to guess how they feel about each other?

The deadline aspect made me think of one of the best buddy/action pictures ever made — Midnight Run (Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin). The difference in these two personality types made me think of what’s generally considered Billy Wilder’s worst film (and last) — Buddy Buddy, with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. I’m not the toughest critic to impress, because I actually liked Buddy Buddy. Yet I disliked this movie immensely.

The tonal shifts are horrible. We get goofy jokes one minute, and horrific violence the next. We get escape attempts, snarky comments, and…we get Salma Hayek playing an annoying stereotype — the red-hot Latin, who drops the f-bomb every five seconds. Yet she can also be a red-hot lover, as we see in the flashback courtship scene with Jackson. The audience howled with laughter at the CinemaCon screening in Las Vegas, as she disposed of bodies all around her in a bar (using the cliche movie move of having a ballad play during the crazy fight — Hello by Lionel Richie). Only the few facial expressions from Jackson made that scene tolerable. He’s easily the best thing in it. Whether he’s talking tough, or crooning a blues song in the car. In fact, that song (Nobody Gets Out Alive) is an original, and it would be cool to nominate it for an Oscar.  

[side note: anybody remember his powerful singing in Black Snake Moan?]

We also hear a few other good songs, but they have been used in soooo many other films: Black Betty, Little Queenie, and Dancing in the Moonlight (didn’t we just hear that in Guardians of the Galaxy?).

This movie is so by-the-numbers. You realize these two will both end up with a grudging respect for each other and will reluctantly do the right thing.

This movie makes you realize why movies like Lethal Weapon work. There’s actual chemistry between the two leads, and solid writing.

I would give this zero stars, but Jackson is so much fun to watch in half his scenes, I’m giving it 1 ½ stars out of 5.

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