The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Directed by Patrick Hughes
Written by Tom O’Connor

Summer blockbusters have come and gone, fall Oscar contenders are yet to come, and here we stand in the month of August, otherwise known as the wasteland of movies. More often than not, August is a month full of mediocre comedies and other misfit movies that don’t fit in anywhere else in the cinematic calendar. It’s very rare that a hit movie lands here, which is probably why I have spent of a lot of the month away from a theater seat (moving this month has something to do with that, but the fare at the cineplex has been predictably bland this month as well). Even movies with proven stars, like Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds typically are given the cold shoulder when released in August. But I must say, August, with the Midwest heat and humidity, is the perfect time to duck into the AC of the theater. With The Hitman’s Bodyguard, now there is a good movie to see when doing so too.

After seeing the trailer for this film, I must admit I had low expectations. August release date aside, the film seemed silly and stupid. And it is, but it’s all the more entertaining for it. After the dictator of Belarus, Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) is charged with crimes against humanity by the world court, INTERPOL agent Roussel (Elodie Yung) is tasked with transporting a key witness, former hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), from England to testify. But when an inter-agency leak leads to disaster, Roussel calls in former elite bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) to help finish the job. What Roussel didn’t know was the checkered past between Bryce and Kincaid. The misfit duo must fight their way to The Hague in 28 hours, otherwise Dukhovich will walk free.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is nothing new on top of the stack of action comedy films. We’ve seen the odd couple action movie numerous times before, but this film still feels fresh enough to entertain throughout thanks in large part to the charisma and chemistry of the two leads, Reynolds and Jackson. Sam Jackson is essentially playing himself dialed up to 11, which may annoy those who tire of his antics, but Ryan Reynolds deadpan comedic timing and stylings pair extremely well with the vulgar and violent character portrayed by Jackson. It’s bizarrely a match made in heaven. The film leans heavily on these two to carry the movie, and for good reason, but if you expect a well rounded performance from anyone here, you’re looking at the wrong movie.

Director Patrick Hughes, who debuted with an Expendables movie, inserts the electric interplay between Reynolds and Jackson with equally energetic and electric action sequences. Banter, action, banter, action, banter, action. It’s a very simple formula, but it’s funny and thrilling all the same and doesn’t get old before the film concludes. What stands out in The Hitman’s Bodyguard is just how fun it manages to be with this simplicity. It’s a thrill ride, one with plenty of laughs in its ridiculously plotted narrative, with its ridiculous characters. This is not a film which takes place in real life, but it understands that, embraces that and therefore becomes the perfect summer popcorn movie that is endlessly entertaining.

Ultimately, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a throwaway film. Likely forgettable, certainly derivative, but the perfect bridge between popcorn summer blockbusters and fall dramatic Oscar contenders (for the record, not because this resembles anything like a dramatic Oscar contender, but rather because it’s a surprisingly entertaining time at the movies in a time on the cinematic calendar which is usually replete with horrible movies). Given, I had no expectations going into the film, and who should, it’s an action comedy. The expectation is to be entertained, and entertained I was. It’s a shame that I feel as though I have to defend my enjoyment of this film simply because these types of movies often get a bad rap for being dumb and unoriginal. I actually liked how dumb it was. If this movie tried to be smarter it wouldn’t be nearly as endearing in its ridiculousness. Embrace the dumb fun. Emphasis on “fun”.

*** – Very Good

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