THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD gets 6.5/10 Hit and Ms

Directed by Patrick Hughes
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Salma Hayek

6.5/10

With his professional reputation in tatters, bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is given an unlikely client. His ex-girlfriend’s (Elodie Yung) operation has been compromised, thanks to a mole in Interpol, so Bryce must transport the star witness against a bloodthirsty dictator (Gary Oldman) to testify at The Hague. Not only does Bryce have to face an army of killers out to stop him, but also has a turbulent history with the witness himself, the hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson).

In all honesty, this is at best a rough gem. The fights are edited within an inch of their life, trimming everything down to a series of rapid flashes, rather than an organically evolving brawl. There’s some sloppy green-screen work, that makes it blatantly obvious that the actor is standing in a set as a CG special effect is projected behind him in post. Perhaps most damning of all, the whole film could easily have about 20 minutes shaved from it’s run-time to produce a superior product.

Still, look at it from the right angle and there is treasure here. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a fine example of a buddy action comedy, exploiting that age old chestnut of putting two polar opposite bad-asses together, and letting the comedy (and carnage) come from there. When pushed director Patrick Hughes can also stage some amazing sequences, both action and comedy, as well as the blending of the two (the Salma Hayek Hello sequence might be the most darkly funny thing I’ve seen this year). These are inconsistent, but when those moments come, they are of a standard that would do a lot of action directors credit.

Of course the chemistry flows from Reynolds and Jackson. Here they are the traditional odd couple of action, a precise professional (Reynolds) and a reckless hothead (Jackson). Both actors are obviously having a blast in their roles, even if doesn’t stretch either of their ranges. However, sometimes casting to type works, and this is certainly one of those cases. Both manage to sell the characters, and Reynolds actually manages to excel in one sequence, as he sits calmly complaining about his life while a chaotic gun battle rages around him. As for Jackson, at this stage of his career I’m sure everyone on the planet must know he can play a bad-ass, and does so with his usual flare here. Hayek is the surprise stand out, as the foul mouthed wife of Kincaid, doing a wonderful job of inspiring terror in all that contact her.

An incredibly patchy film, but certainly not one without it’s moments. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a solid example of the genre, rather than a great one.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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