Let’s just be honest right up front. If you’re going to see The Hitman’s Bodyguard, you’re going for two reasons, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Each of them is more than capable of carrying even the worst movie on their charm alone. Together? Well, let’s just say that The Hitman’s Bodyguard is far from the worst movie ever and it knows where its true strength lies.
The story places international assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) in the care of professional bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), responsible for transporting him safely to testify against a genocidal ex-president (Gary Oldman). Unfortunately, this turns out to be incredibly difficult for two reasons. For one, the ex-president doesn’t want Kincaid alive to testify and has quite the kill squad at his beck and call. The other big problem? Kincaid and Bryce have history and absolutely hate each other.
I’m not going to lie. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is far from being a truly great action movies, and that’s probably because it’s from director/writer Patrick Hughes, best known for The Expendables 3 (AKA the worst one). Luckily, it’s hard to tell where Hughes influence ends and where Jackson and Reynolds take over. Both have proven in the past to not only make the most of their roles but contribute more to the point where they should almost be considered writers as well. If it were any other leads, there is no doubt that this movie would be as generic as every other straight to video action flick.
The film leans heavily on Jackson and Reynolds for the first two acts. Letting them argue and bicker, trying desperately to one up each other with their ridiculous insults and tantrums. To be honest, I could not have been happier watching these two on screen. The third act though explodes in a fireball of action, that almost seems out of place given how little actually happens before that. Sure, there are some scuffles, but Hughes never really opens it up and let his leads show their action abilities until it’s almost too late.
Hughes also fails to take advantage of the film’s locations. Preferring to stick to back roads spliced with spanning shots of the cities that the audience has to assume the characters are in. The two trek across Europe, but most of the films takes place inside buildings or cars. There’s no glory. No epic background for the gun fights or chase scenes. There’s no telling why the locations were used so sparingly, but it cheapens the film as a whole.
Really, the strength of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is strictly in its casting. Not just the leads either. Oldman shines as a psychotic war criminal, creating menace out of nothing. He’s joined by Salma Hayek and Elodie Yung, as the protagonists love interests. Both manage to give their characters intense, larger than life personalities and prove that they are two of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. Without these supporting actors, it’s not clear if Jackson and Reynold’s could have carried it all on their own.
Like I said before, there are really two reasons to see The Hitman’s Bodyguard. That’s essentially all that needs to be said about the film. So, it’s up to you whether you think that’s enough for you to give it a shot. As lackluster as everything else was, I can honestly say it was enough for me.