Directed by: Patrick Hughes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim De Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell, Richard E. Grant
Runtime: 119 min
The title says it all. Patrick Hughes tells the story of Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), one of the best hitman in the world, and his newly acquired bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds).
After years of being on the opposite side of the bullet, they end up needing to team up in order to take down a bigger threat by the name of Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), a very violent Eastern European dictator.
This is the type of film from which I always expect to receive a fun bit of entertainment. I know that I'm not going to watch a masterpiece, but I also hope it's not a waste of my time. Well, The Hitman's Bodyguard isn't exactly a good movie, but it's also not a major letdown.
Easy to say that the standouts are undoubtedly the performances of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. As a film critic, there are always some aspects of a movie that I already know that they're going to be great. I mean, who goes into a film with RR and SLJ and expect them to shank their acting?! Fun fact: their chemistry is awesome and it carries the whole thing.
Samuel L. Jackson might even have the best lines of the script. It's funny how he plays a more relaxed and cool guy, while Reynolds portrays a very meticulous and careful type of special bodyguard. Usually, they play the other one's role so it's somehow interesting to see the relationship between their characters evolve. Ryan Reynolds is also hilarious, as he has been in his most recent movies. Honestly, they basically play an exaggerated version of their public personas in real life.
Nevertheless, their characters are surprisingly well-developed. Their backstories are compelling and they justify well enough why they followed their respective career paths. They're mostly showed in well-edited and captivating flashbacks that never seem out of place, so kudos to you, Patrick Hughes.
Elodie Yung (Amelia Roussel) proves that she deserves more roles in big-budget features because she's really great in this one. Gary Oldman is good as the villain, but here is where the screenplay starts to crumble. It's yet another cliche villain with no real motivations to do what he's doing and he doesn't even appear in the film that much. In addition to this, he's the main reason why the tone is so unbalanced since it feels a completely different movie every time he shows up. The script quickly jumps from a "buddy-cop" comedy to someone shooting a child ... Off-screen. Still, that happens.
The humor has its ups and downs. There are some good chuckles here and there, but some jokes just fall entirely flat. When they do work, it's mainly due to the excellent job of the cast that is able to pull them off. The action is fine, there are a bunch of cool chasing scenes (the ones through Amsterdam are indeed pretty great), but their editing lacks quality. In some shots, I can even see the stunt man driving the car, but thankfully the sequences are long enough to make me kind of forget those mistakes.
I praised Elodie Yung's performance and I keep that compliment. However, she's connected to one of my main issues with the protagonists' essence. Both Darius and Michael are who they are due to the love that they had in their lives, but once they show how the romances started, everything stops making sense. It's so cliche that it even becomes unrealistic and it's by far the laziest section of the screenplay in the whole film. Literally, it's like they "bumped into each other and fell in love" kind of romances.
Following that train of thought, this isn't groundbreaking. It's an action-comedy in its raw, predictable form. Fifteen minutes into the movie and I already knew the entire plot, so obviously every attempt to elevate the suspense or tension in a scene, fails miserably, also due to extreme foreshadowing. Consequently, the first half of the film drags a lot and it becomes a bit boring, but the action-heavy third act partially compensates the previously wasted time. Patrick Hughes should have reduced the runtime by 20-25 minutes, at least.
All in all, The Hitman's Bodyguard doesn't disappoint me, but it also doesn't exceed my expectations. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson carry the whole thing, either by pulling off some fine jokes or by perfectly portraying some surprisingly well-explored characters. However, both the plot and the villain follow every cliche in the book, as well as the unrealistic love stories that are so important to the main characters' personalities (Elodie Yung is great, though). The first half of the movie drags too much, consequently stretching the runtime too much, but it's still a movie that most audiences will fairly enjoy.