Film & TV

Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the new action-comedy film by director Patrick Hughes, whose previous pictures can be counted on one hand by a person missing three fingers: Red Hill (me neither) and The Expendables 3 (yes, they really did make three).

The film stars Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a disgraced security contractor who must escort his arch-nemesis, hitman Darius Kincaid, played by Samuel L. Jackson, from the UK to the International Court in Amsterdam to testify against an evil Belarussian dictator played by the fantastic Gary Oldman. Which, on paper at least, sounds pretty damn great.

Which is why you could easily be forgiven for thinking The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the perfect summer blockbuster. It should work: an action-packed buddy comedy starring Jackson and Reynolds as goofy but badass heroes whose banter shines, with great support by the likes of Oldman and Élodie Yung (who plays an Interpol agent), and a tone that allows for serious scenes to have weight to them and comedy scenes to be genuinely funny. Of course it should work.

But it doesn’t.

Despite its solid foundations, the film is dragged down by its many flaws. The most annoying of which is the forced romantic sub-plot between Reynolds and Yung’s characters. Whilst adding nothing to the film, it also robs screen time that could have been used to further explore and develop Jackson’s relationship with his wife, played by Salma Hayek, which is both genuine and funny.

Then there are the clichés. After the plot is established in the first half an hour or so, you could pretty much guess the rest of the film and you wouldn’t be far off. Some of it, like the Big Chase Scene™, is handled quite well, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we’ve already seen it a million times.

Not to mention a few of the more minor, nit-picky details strewn throughout the film which drove me crazy. It’s obvious the CGI budget had to be dipped into to pay for the great cast, because at one point I saw what looked like a child’s drawing of a helicopter fly over a city. Then there’s the totally out-of-place fart ‘joke’. The ‘joke’ being that someone farts. Get it? It stops the film dead in its tracks and makes you imagine the poor editor, teary-eyed, being forced to add the sound effect by some cigar-munching 20th Century Fox executive.

Suffice it to say, overall the film is pretty disappointing. While some aspects, like Reynolds and Jackson’s chemistry, Oldman’s performance, and a few interesting cinematic techniques (there’s a great long-take fight scene in the middle of the otherwise chaotic action) are compelling enough, they ultimately only make you wish the film had had a better writer and director who could have moulded the (almost) fool-proof ideas into something more memorable.

You can watch the trailer here:

Ryan Jones Matthews