The fact I sat in front of a blank document for 20 minutes before writing this review is a testament to my overall ambivalence towards this film. Sure, it has
two bona fide loveable A-Listers at the helm doing the ol’ mismatch buddy movie with plenty of explosions. And sure, the concept is clever in its banality and I found the directing tight and the edit polished, but watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard felt like receiving a C+ for an assignment – “ergh… it’ll do I guess…”
Why they had Ryan Reynolds play the ‘straight’ man, aka the unfunny one is beyond me. He has some moments but most of the time he is Samuel L. Jackson’s launching point for a swearing verbal tirade or setting up a cheap, predictable laugh. I found their chemistry to be good, two consummate professionals doing their best with a mediocre script.
The overall story is enjoyable enough; there’s the best bodyguard in the world fallen on hard times and looking for redemption. One day he is offered the opportunity to go ‘Triple A” once more, by protecting the best assassin in the world, locked up behind bars and needing to be transferred to the International Court of Justice as the key and lone witness to put a tyrannical world leader behind bars. (Played by Gary Oldman who is the best in anything he does)
This sets up a quick pace and raises the stakes from the get-go, especially when we learn the two are former mortal enemies – so now we have some fun conflict for the two to resolve, and plenty of opportunities for the two to one-up each other and try to prove who is better and killing, and who is better and protecting. With an underlying plot thread involving requiting old love, and soon we find the two have a lot in common, and have a lot to share and learn from each other awwwwwww!
Regardless of my score for this, The Hitman’s Bodyguard already ranks highly for one sole reason; it is not a sequel, a prequel or part of a franchise. It is standalone and all encompassing, and knows what it is. The storyline doesn’t hold your hand or explain everything, and there is a bevy of ‘show, don’t tell’ where we get to see all the flashbacks and cutaways rather than watch the person lazily just saying the story like we see in many movies.
There are moments of cringe, including a fart joke, but as an overall package choc this film up to satisfying, but bland – kind of like fast food. The action scenes the sweet and sour sauce, adding flavor and a bit of excitement, with references to directors like Tarantino and Edgar Wright. It feels like John Wick if that were a comedy, but there were certainly parts of this movie where you could be mistaken for thinking it was a drama, sometimes getting a bit too melodramatic, or simply – a lame joke falls flat.
6/10 (or C+) Needs more Whitney Houston.