a critiQal film review The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Plot: The world’s top protection agent (Reynolds) is called upon to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world’s most notorious hitmen (Jackson). The relentless bodyguard and manipulative assassin have been on the opposite end of the bullet for years and are thrown together for a wildly outrageous 24 hours. During their raucous and hilarious adventure from England to the Hague, they encounter high-speed car chases, outlandish boat escapades and a merciless Eastern European dictator (Oldman) who is out for blood.

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In the mood for a little buddy comedy (which hasn’t been around for the past minute), we decided to check out the Ryan Reynolds / Samuel L. Jackson team-up, The Hitman’s Bodyguard. We had high expectations for this film. Ryan Reynolds is usually fun when he teams up with a good partner, and Samuel L. Jackson usually brings something special to his roles.

So, would The Hitman’s Bodyguard show the best of this duo, or is this another buddy comedy dud? We couldn’t wait to find out.

Ryan Reynolds, fresh off his hit turn as the “merc with a mouth” in Deadpool (2016) keeps going strong with The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Whether he’s the suave AAA security agent in the beginning, or the down-on-his-luck ex-CIA guy later on, he plays his role to the hilt. In either scenario, he seems well-suited to the role, cleaning up and dressing down to fit his character to a T.

Samuel L. Jackson takes his familiarity with the role of tough guy and elevates it in The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Similar to his spot-on spoof of a gung-ho detective in the otherwise rather awful The Other Guys (2010), he knows exactly how these characters are supposed to act, and tweaks it just enough to make his performance stand out. While Reynolds follows the formula perfectly, Jackson twists things up a bit, giving the viewer a sly wink even as he takes out the bad guys.

But it’s the two of them together that really brings together The Hitman’s Bodyguard. While some of the sequences aren’t that funny (and feel a little forced), in the thick of things, these two make for a smart team-up. With Ryan’s patented wisecrack humor and Jackson’s ease on-screen (you know he’s acting just for the fun he gets out of it), they make for a strong duo. They both easily connect with the viewers, and no matter what’s going on around them, the viewer is going to stick through it all just to see what these two characters are up to next.

Gary Oldman, who has shown real depth in films like The Professional (1994), Batman Begins (2005) (making the iconic role of Commissioner Gordon his own) and even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), doesn’t really have as much to sink his teeth into with his role in The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Still, he doesn’t seem to mind, and does a good job of portraying an evil dictator in the few scenes he has.

The rest of the cast also does a good job with their roles, even if The Hitman’s Bodyguard is focused solely on Reynolds and Jackson. Elodie Yung is decent as an Interpol agent, Joaquin de Almeida shows just the right amount of shady character to make his role fit, and Salma Hayek, while not getting very much screen time, shows she is still just as sexy cool as she was back in Desperado (1995).

Unfortunately, the plot of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is rather plain, and obviously just created to create a situation around Reynolds and Jackson. The “surprise twists” are easily guessed at before they happen, with the viewer probably guessing the film’s ending long before it happens. Still, it achieves it’s purpose, and watching the duo of Reynolds and Jackson more than makes up for any see-through “twists”. With these two, it’s more about the journey than the conclusion, and the film recognizes that right from the start.

Sure, the film around them could have tried a bit harder, but when tossing a few cliched elements together (a little “two man army” – made up a down-on-his-luck ex-CIA agent and a hitman with a heart – mixed with “enemies become friends” against the “evil man” in a “race against time”) still works when you have Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson at the forefront, it’s easy to see why they didn’t. The action is fast-paced, and although 2 hrs is a bit of a stretch for the runtime (and could easily have been pared down a bit), the viewer should have a good, popcorn-munching time watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard. And that’s exactly what the film is aiming for.

The only question the viewer will have after enjoying The Hitman’s Bodyguard is: when are Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson going to team up again?

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