"You've got a speck of blood on your... everywhere."
One of the world’s top bodyguards (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself with a new client to protect, the world’s best hitman (Samuel L. Jackson) who has evidence that could help stop the reign of a ruthless dictator (Gary Oldman). The two must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial in one piece.
It’s pretty hard to make a really enjoyable action film. You have to get everything just right in an almost perfect storm of entertainment. I think that’s why we’re so forgiving with many of the films that get released each summer, if they get some of the ingredients right we’ll give them a pass. Unfortunately The Hitman’s Bodyguard tries to include as many ingredients as possible to reach maximum entertainment potential and ends up being an overcooked mess.
The main problem with the film is that it tries too hard to be funny. The script, which was featured on the 2011 Black List (a list of the best unproduced screenplays of that year), was quickly rewritten once Jackson and Reynolds were cast to turn the film from a straight dramatic thriller to a lighter, more comedic affair. The result is a somewhat shambolic film that never seems to get a handle on its tone.
The most engaging aspect of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the chance to see Ryan Reynolds ostensibly place the straight man. I’ve always enjoyed Ryan Reynolds, going all the way back to his sitcom days and find his brand of comedy effortlessly charming. That being said, I relished an opportunity to see him to sit back and let somebody else handle the brunt of the comedic work while he simply reacted to his surrounding and supporting cast. While the character he’s playing isn’t exactly “deep”, there’s enough there for the audience to latch on to and enjoy as he unwillingly takes on the job he finds himself in.
Jackson, who delivers the majority of the films comedy, seems to be having a WHOLE lot of fun in his role. It seems as if the chance came for him to go over the top with his characterisation and he jumped at it. He doesn’t ever reach ridiculous levels with his performance, he’s simply added a bravado and odd unique flourishes throughout that help bolster him up and create a larger than life persona, perfectly fitting for a legendary hitman.
Salma Hayek and Gary Oldman are given short shrift in minor supporting roles that, while integral to the overall plot, don’t really have much to do with the film. Hayek is stuck doing similar shtick to that of Jackson but it doesn’t have the same effect coming from her. Oldman, a man normally renowned for crafting spectacular villains is subdued in his role. With the little screen time he’s given he tries his best to create a lasting impact on the audience but his minimal presence results in a villain that never really comes off as an overpowering threat.
The other major issue with the film is that the two leads don’t really work as a pair. Unlike Jackson and Willis, who bounced off each other perfectly in the third Die Hard, Reynolds and Jackson don’t have the chemistry to make the tonal shifts work. The emphasis on laughs is pushed to the forefront making any real connection between the two characters seem forced, almost as if it was a secondary notion to the humour.
It’s a film that does have its moments and is somewhat entertaining in parts, however they’re few and far between. As a whole doesn’t quite know what it’s going for. With an uneasy tone and performances that seem to clash rather than compliment it makes for a somewhat tedious watch.
4 out of 10.
Reviewed by Chris Swan.