Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Review #1,336: 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' (2017)

The production companies behind The Hitman's Bodyguard, a buddy comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, tried their very best to achieve an R-rating. That is, to throw in every swear word under the sun and puncture this otherwise generic and old-fashioned action flick with bone-crunching violence and CGI blood-spurting. But this is no Shane Black movie. Directed by The Expendables 3's Patrick Hughes and with a script by relative newcomer Tom O'Connor, The Hitman's Bodyguard fails to find the correct balance between humour, action and tone to warrant comparison to the likes of The Last Boy Scout or, more recently, The Nice Guys. The film simply lets the actors do what they are known best for and hopes for a positive outcome.

It begins by introducing UK-based security expert Michael Bryce (Reynolds), who prides himself on a triple-A rating and the fact that none of the rich types who employ his services have died under his protection. But his luxurious life and untarnished reputation comes to a grinding halt when a Japanese arms dealer receives a bullet through the brain. A couple of years later, Bryce has been demoted to protecting scumbags like the cocaine-snorting businessman Mr. Seifert (Richard E. Grant). He sees an opportunity to redeem himself when Interpol agent and ex-girlfriend Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) tasks him with transporting notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson) from Manchester to Amsterdam so he can testify in court. Only the man he is testifying against, Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (a sleepwalking Gary Oldman), uses all of his power to disrupt their passage.

The two lead stars, regardless of how much fun it's looks like they're having, fail to inject much life into The Hitman's Bodyguard. Reynolds does his deadpan motormouth thing (Bryce is basically Deadpool without the costume or ability to regenerate limbs) and Jackson gets to scream "motherfucker!" a hell of a lot, but this simply isn't enough to justify the lack of any real jokes. There's the odd well-earned snigger, but you have to get through a lot of shouting to reach them, with Salma Hayek receiving the most thankless task as Kilcaid's sweary incarcerated wife. The action also fails to deliver. Although a boat chase through Amsterdam's canals is just preposterous enough to fleetingly entertain, the fights lack physicality and the gun-play is deprived of invention, with little real threat from the endless waves of Dukhovich's leather jacket-wearing goons. When a film feels the need to insert a fart joke, you know you're in trouble.

Directed by: Patrick Hughes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Richard E. Grant
Country: USA/Hong Kong/Bulgaria/Netherlands

Rating: **

Tom Gillespie

The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017) on IMDb

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