“Hitman’s Bodyguard” Misses the Mark
Timing is everything in life, as well as the movies, and it certainly works against Patrick Hughes’ The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a standard actioner that contains a few too many scenes that hit close to home where the recent terrorist acts in Europe are concerned. Seeing explosions rip apart a building in a major metropolitan area or a gun battle being waged on a crowded city street in the service of a pedestrian piece of entertainment is in bad taste, not simply now, but always. Yet, Hollywood keeps blowing stuff up real good, oblivious to the notion that the line between harsh reality and film fiction has become tragically blurred and that movie’s like Bodyguard come far to close to being offensive for comfort.
Compounding matters is that the film just isn’t very good. There’s nothing new here and seems to have been approached as the script were nothing but a checklist of predictable moments that Hughes dutifully filmed, checked them off the sheet and went on to the next. There’s a lack of inspiration here in the approach as well as the story, a Midnight Run on an international stage with a pair of odd couple killers who crack wise as often as they pull the trigger.
Bodyguard Michael Bryce’s (Ryan Reynolds) career has taken a hit since one of his client’s was offed while under his watch. He’s reduced to taking on paranoid corporate types, which hasn’t helped his reputation in the least. However, opportunity knocks in the way of Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a hit man who needs to be transported to The Hague in 27 hours to testify in the trial of former heinous dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). The killer’s got some dirt on him that could send him away for a very long time. In exchange for Kincaid’s cooperation, his foul-mouthed wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) will be released from prison.
What ensues is a very eventful day and night as various groups of bad guys with poor aim pursue our intrepid duo and tear apart most of Western Europe in the process. These action scenes occur like clock work and contain nary a surprise as the explosions become louder, the gunshots more plentiful and the editing more rapid, all of which leads to a vomit images on the screen rather than carefully constructing set pieces. This all gets so tedious, so quickly. None of it impresses.
Reynolds and Jackson on the other hand are sweating bullets trying to make this work. While there is some chemistry between the two stars as well as an occasional spark struck between them, they aren’t so much acting as doing the shtick they’ve each become famous for. Reynolds cracks wise, Jackson glowers and curses and big paychecks are collected. There certainly is a market for this sort of thing but it all quickly wears thin, producing more headaches than thrills.