What is it about buddie-action comedies that makes them so forgettable now days? I’m serious, I just saw The Hitman’s Bodyguard and I already can’t remember most of it. How is that managed with this cast? I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with it being directed by the man who gave us the worst Expendables film. Whatever the case, here we are.
The story to The Hitman’s Bodyguard is actually pretty hard to decipher. Not that it’s complicated, it’s just so bland and forgettable. It has something to do with Gary Oldman is an Eastern European dictator who is put on trial by the EU or UN or some other equivalent. But, not being able to find hard evidence, outside of bias witness accounts (like there’s any other form of witness account), the people need someone who has hard evidence against Oldman. Set in Samuel L Jackson, a hitman with a heart of gold. He needs to be taken from Manchester to Amsterdam. Set in Ryan Reynolds, a down on his luck bodyguard with only his dignity left to lose. From there on out we have our buddie-movie.
Let’s all be completely honest; the plot is nothing to write home about. Its only reason for being is to put Jackson and Reynolds together. That’s really what people are coming for; the on-screen duo, some laughs and some action. And, being fair to the film it does deliver what it promises. Jackson and Reynolds have great comedic chemistry, and when they’re both on-screen together the film comes alive. Jackson plays his part extremely well. I would say that this role was written for him, if we didn’t all know how true that is. Everything about this character screams Samuel L Jackson – from quick and philosophising remarks, to his usual parental intercourse catchphrase every three sentences. Reynolds, on the other hand, is a bit more conflicting. He’s hilarious, as Ryan Reynolds is, but he didn’t fit his character. Remember the character of Nicholas Angel from Hot Fuzz? That’s what this character basically is, an over-the-top by-the-book safety nut. But Reynolds plays it more like Deadpool – giving us the comebacks and remarks of Deadpool. Funny yes, but definitely not in character.
Other characters are Reynolds’ ex-fiancée, who was okay in the role but had no chemistry with anybody in the film. Salma Hayek plays Jackson’s wife, and she is easily the best part of the film. She plays this imprisoned woman who claims that she is innocent, as do many others – yet she is anything but. She was also used the appropriate amount throughout the film, as any more and she might have started to grate on our nerves a bit. Other than them there’s not really much point in going on. Pretty much everybody else is completely forgettable here. Even Gary Oldman, who I usual love, barely registered to me. His role could have gone to anyone and not a thing would be missed.
Outside of that, there’s not a massive amount to talk about. Mostly the film is just fine. The music is fine. The acting is fine. The use of locations and sets are fine. The humour is good, but that is mostly because of the actors they have playing these roles. The action is surprisingly strong too, and is certainly more violent than I was expecting. The 15 rating is definitely earned on this one.
The directing was very strange to me. Mostly the film was directed, you guessed it, fine. But, there were multiple shots throughout this film that were really bizarrely done. Remember those J.J. Abrams films and the use of lens-flairs? Well take that, but make it incompetently done. Sometimes the lighting was so over-exposed that it blinded the screen – but even when it didn’t, the over-exposure was really distracting. It looked like a bad phone-pic. And because of this, often in the film the screen felt blurred, sometimes really badly. It is possible that that last point was just my screening, but if it’s not then that is a really strange filming choice to have made. There was only one quicker way to draw me out of the film.
It’s time we talked about this film’s tone. Or lack thereof. The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels like three different films are competing to be viewed.
One is a tribute to the ‘90’s action comedies; such as ConAir, The Rock and Face/Off. The other is an unapologetic, bad taste comedy with dark humour and hilarious violent scenes; not too dissimilar from Peter Jackson’s early films like Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Brain Dead. And the final tone is a very dark political thriller, where people feel raw emotion for the dark moments in their lives. It is made even worse by the fact that we get all three of these tones together in the first three scenes of the film. I’m sorry, but I feel I have the right to complain when the first scene of this film has a man getting shot and is played for laughs – which then gets followed almost immediately with a scene where a man watches his wife and child get executed in front of him, and is left to live with that image. Truth be told, the film only really works when it plays by the rules of the bad taste comedy. To me, that pretty much proves what this film should have been all along.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard will entertain you if you know what you’re in for. It’s nothing special, but it’s not terrible either. It’s just mediocre. I guess I can recommend it, but not in the cinema. DVD or TV will do just fine. The tonal inconsistencies are unforgivable, but its biggest sin is that it’s just forgettable. Truth be told, I will have probably forgotten about it completely after the weekend.
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