THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD Review: 8 out of 10 (Buddies and Bullets)
THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD feels like a film from 1988. A black-and-white buddy film with plenty of action and laughs as two guys that hate each other have to work together to overcome a common enemy. It isn't exactly original--in many ways playing like an updated version of MIDNIGHT RUN. There is no real reason to enjoy it. Except that it is just so much fun. directed by Patrick Hughes and written by Tom O'Connor. The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek. Ryan Reynolds is Bryce--a AAA executive protection agent-- called upon to guard the life of one of the world's most notorious hitmen Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). It seems that Kincaid has intel on a ruthless (also generic) Eastern European dictator (Gary Oldman) who is on trial at the Hague. But with plenty of (equally generic) baddies trying to stop Kincaid from arriving the two face more than one obstacle to get Kincaid to the court on time.
With high-speed car chases, boat escapades and lots of 'splosions, the film runs at a pretty quick pace. But it is the foul mouthed Jackson and quick witted Reynolds that make this so watchable. Salma Hayek joins the mayhem as Jackson's wife with just a couple of scenes that nearly steal the show. Though she sits in prison for most of the movie's duration, there are some great flashbacks that tell more of her story, along with her assassin husband. Though the two leads are playing characters in a screenplay, Jackson and Reynolds are both working firmly in their own wheelhouse here with tongue firmly in cheek. Some could say it might be basic or unoriginal, but it certainly works to lean into the strengths of the two primaries, exploiting what filmgoers already know and expect from the two. There are plenty of laughs here, including some running gags and a couple of long-playing jokes with payoffs. It isn't innovative, but when you laugh out loud more times than you have fingers, it is worth the price of the ticket.
Safe to say that THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD is *trying* to be a throwback buddy comedy--making a promise to the audience that there will be plenty of foul-mouthed wise-cracking while avoiding near death as two hardened killers pinball witty dialogue and kill bad guys. It makes that promise and keeps it. And though there are some that might find this formula generic, it is the charisma of its two stars that elevate it to an entertaining level. Summer 2017 isn't quite over yet if you like buddy action comedies straight out of the 80s.