There’s no denying that both Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are phenomenal actors, but both have started appearing in what I like to call “paycheck” movies. They show up in movies that are more or less beneath their talents, and I assume most of the time for no reason other than earning some money. They are generally the best part of these films, but if they aren’t careful they could wind up dangerously close to Nicholas Cage territory. Now the artists also known as Nick Fury and Deadpool are teaming up in this goofy action/comedy that aside from a couple entertaining scenes, is instantly forgettable.
At first the trailers made this look like a straight up parody of the “classic” Kevin Costner movie The Bodyguard. Instead of being a farce, however, it’s more of a low rent Lethal Weapon/48 Hrs mashup. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a former high end bodyguard who has fallen on rough times since a high profile client was killed while under his protection. Now doing low end jobs, he is contacted by his former girlfriend who is moving up the ranks at Interpol. She asks him to escort Darius Kincaid (Jackson), one of the world’s most notorious hit men, from England to the Netherlands so he can testify against an imprisoned dictator. Unfortunately, Kincaid and Bryce share a rather messy history, and there are plenty of people who don’t want to let Kincaid get to his destination alive.
There are exactly two things that work in this movie. The first, and most obvious, is the chemistry between the two leads. The banter between them is actually very funny, and I would love to see them pair up in a better movie someday (still hoping for a Avengers/ X-Men crossover someday…) The other is the final chase/fight scene. I’m not usually a huge fan of quick cuts, but the big climax was so much fun it honestly didn’t bother me. Sadly, the excitement of the final 20 or so minutes wasn’t nearly enough to save this movie.
Now for the problems. Firstly, the movie is just too damn long. Had it been a quick 80 minutes, it may have been much easier to get through it. Instead, it drags on for a seemingly endless two hours and it becomes a chore to sit through. Had in not been for the final act, I probably would have dozed off before the credits started to roll. Also the supporting cast is completely wasted. Aside from Elodie Yung, who plays Reynold’s former girlfriend, the actors have nothing to do. The usually wonderful Salma Hayek is there for the sole purpose of being comic relief, it’s upsetting. When an actor as respected as Gary Oldman is relegated to nothing more than a mustache-twirling villain you know you have a problem.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t awful, it just isn’t very good. I could throw the names of all the action comedies from the last two decades into a hat, and at least 4 of the first 5 I pull out would be more memorable than this. It had potential, but wound up being pointless.