“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” Movie Review


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     After viewing director Patrick Hughes’ “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”, it’s easy to understand why the Summer box office is down nearly 16 percent from the previous year, with the number of tickets sold coming in at the lowest point in 25 years.  Hughes previous outing, “The Expendables 3”, should have been a lesson. But instead those who funded this mess continue to proceed under the notion that simply putting recognizable stars into a buddy action comedy, utilizing the same formula which has been rehashed I don't know how many times, will lead to both box office and critical success.  Well maybe they don't really care about critical success, but “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” happens to be the best late August offering Hollywood could muster, and believe me, that isn't saying much.

     We’ve seen this many times before.  Two overly macho, profane, and virtually invincible characters who don't like each other, but are forced to work together within whatever scenario the screenwriters dream up.  The comedic portions of the story will rely on the back and forth banter between the two, usually when they're driving so as to form what is usually a wafer thin glue between action set pieces.  Some films have managed to use this formula really well.  We’ll never forget the hilarious pairing of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh in the “Lethal Weapon” films, equally as much for the complexities of their individual characters as the perilous situations they found themselves in.  “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” attempts basically the same thing, but the lack of backstory surrounding both Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), an executive protection expert, and Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a hitman wanted for testimony in a high level political corruption and human rights case, proves to be its undoing, as the former is charged with protecting the later from the hoards of evil henchman tracking their every step.

     Ryan Reynolds still can’t seem to shake his “Van Wilder” routine (a routine that worked really well in “Deadpool”), and in a film that requires some semblance of believability in the character, his performance immediately thrusts the film into a state of silliness, where at the very least a more even tone is warranted.  And when Samuel L. Jackson finally makes his entrance about 20 minutes into the film, he’s basically playing the same character he’s played fifty other times.  It’s F-bombs galore, crossed with the typical racial stereotyping between the characters, being as though one is black and one is white.  They both think they’re the man, and want to spend the film’s grueling 118 minute runtime proving it with an endless array of “can you top this” scenes each time they meet up with the Russians tracking them.  By the half way point, you’ll be so numb, that you wont realize who’s saying what, or who’s shooting who.  After all, given the plot, you have to figure both men will ultimately make it to the end, regardless of the peril Hughes creates for them from scene to scene.

     The story centers around a corrupt foreign President named Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), who has been charged and jailed for generally being a war mongering ravenous dictator.  Darius happens to be the star witness in the case and is also in custody when he makes a deal with the government to pardon his wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), in exchange for testifying against Dukhovich.  Of course whenever I see Joaquim de Almeida cast as a good guy, I right away become engulfed with feelings of doubt and an impending double cross.  Sure enough, a team of Russian baddies, thanks to a tip, ambush the convoy transporting Kincaid to court.  Darius escapes along with one of the surviving agents, Amelia (Elodie Yung), who also happens to be a former flame of Michael’s.  After the pair make it to a safe house, Amelia calls in Michael to protect Darius and ensure he makes it to court before the deadline imposed by the judge.  Of course, what fun would it be if there wasn’t a count down clock of some kind?

     There’s really nothing from there.  Hughes manages several well choreographed action sequences, but nothing we haven’t already seen before in much better films.  Veteran character actors like Oldman and Hayek are essentially wasted in roles that are so under drawn that virtually anyone could’ve stepped in and played them.  Most of the screen time is spent with Michael and Darius bickering at one another until certain situations end up proving both are quite capable of handling themselves and the inevitable respect between characters who once despised each other is suddenly created.  There’s obviously nothing new to see here.  Maybe a few tidbits of mindless end of Summer entertainment, but that’s about it.  Is it any wonder why people are finding better things to do?  GRADE: D