Monday 28 August 2017

Film Review: The Hitman's Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a good for a laugh but little else.

Who doesn’t love a good buddy comedy? The Nice Guys, Bad Boys, 21 Jump Street – the list goes on. Not joining those esteemed ranks however is Patrick Hughes’ new film The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a colour-by-numbers and clichéd action-comedy that coasts by on the charisma of its two leads, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson. 

Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a bodyguard tasked by his Interpol agent ex-girlfriend Amelia (Elodie Yung) with protecting Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a hitman who needs to be escorted safely to The Hague in Holland to act as a witness in the trial of a Soviet warlord named Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Reams of faceless bad dudes are trying to stop them, hijinks ensue – you get the picture.

The trifecta of talent fronting the film – Reynolds, Jackson and Oldman – lend significant weight to what is a fairly humdrum plot, even if they’re all cast as versions of their own public persona or characters they’ve played in the past. 

Reynolds is hapless, sarcastic and adorable; Jackson is foul-mouthed and effortlessly cool; and Oldman is a deranged European terrorist with a facial disfigurement. None of these characters are a stretch for the three, which certainly affords the impression that everyone is simply here to phone it in and cash the cheque – makes you wonder if Jackson works on commission for every time he drops the F-bomb. If so, he milked it for all it was worth.

Where The Hitman’s Bodyguard flounders is in its scattershot and wildly wayward approach to a little thing called tone. What starts out as a straightforward buddy cop flick soon finds itself getting tangled up in a lot of other narrative cul-de-sacs that sap the energy from the freewheeling vibe; one scene sees Reynolds tortured for information via electrocution, right after which the film launches into a flashback soundtracked by Foreigner, a car chase to Spiderbait and a bareknuckle fist fight to Chuck Berry. Like, pick a lane and stick to it. 

The geopolitics, harsh realism and mass graves simply doesn’t mesh with some of the goofier aspects of the film, like singing nuns, farting convicts and meet-cutes to Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest. 

Hughes’ film is firing on cylinders when it’s in Lethal Weapon territory and concerned with the basics; just Reynolds and Jackson sitting in a car tossing barbs and jibes back and forth. The banter is top-notch and gives both of the actors plenty of room to showcase their bottomless wit, even if the narrative spins its wheels and is threadbare at the best of times – at nearly two-hours, Hughes’ film most definitely outstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

The Verdict: 5/10

That’s basically the gist of The Hitman’s Bodyguard; it’s a fun premise that has been stretched into a two-hour movie and milked dry. At a tight 90-minutes, the film would have felt more focused, but in its current form it’s a strangely disorganised, flabby and crass action-comedy that relies solely on the unquenchable charisma of its two leads to little avail.

The Hitman's Bodyguard is in cinemas across Australia on August 31. 

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