Michael Price, played by Ryan Reynolds, lost everything in his perfect life when he let the client he was protecting get killed. Facing a damaged reputation, the triple-A rated protection agent is now forced to protect anybody that will hire him. Darius Kincaid, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is a professional hitman who is the hands of Interpol. In order to protect his wife (Salma Hayek), Kincaid must testify against the ruthless President of Belarus, played by Gary Oldman. When Interpol’s transfer of Kincaid to testify in court is compromised, Price steps in to protect Kincaid and transfer him to his destination, even if they have a history of violence with each other. Trying to reach court in the Netherlands in time, Kincaid and Price must deal with each other’s antics on a dangerous trip across Europe. The Hitman’s Bodyguard unites Marvel stars Nick Fury and Deadpool in a comedy that portrays each star’s off-screen humor and allows for each actor to display their action skills as well. With a film that stars two A-list actors who are arguably some of Hollywood’s most charming stars, I expected a little more.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is helmed by The Expendables 3 director Patrick Hughes, and while this has tons of action scenes throughout, the comedy is really lacking. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson appear to have a chemistry, but it never feels totally natural. Scenes ultimately feel like scripted chemistry and Reynolds and Jackson never explore anything more than the typical characters they commonly play. Ryan Reynolds has played in various genres including romance and action, but his recent success in Deadpool implies that comedy may be his true calling. Samuel L. Jackson of course plays the same “disgruntled gentleman with an attitude” character that we’ve seen a million times before. Reynolds and Jackson seem to have been placed in a room and told to play a combination of all the characters they have before. While watching this film, it almost feels like Reynolds and Jackson have had some of off-screen disagreement because the chemistry is lacking but the annoyance is clear.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard relies on what most people find to be funny about Jackson, which is his ability to create humor with his constant cursing. Imagine all the cursing Jackson said in Snakes on a Plane and then place it directly into this movie. Jackson constantly resorts to cursing to spark a laugh with the audience and most of his comedic lines lack substance to make them stand out as actual jokes. Each joke provided in the film feels used and worn out almost immediately after it’s presented. The Hitman’s Bodyguard also relies on the weak relationship between Kincaid and Price to bring humor that just isn’t there. Kincaid is outlandish and constantly looking for trouble and Price is increasingly frustrated with his behavior but it’s hard to appreciate the moments like this when Reynolds looks instantly disinterested when Jackson speaks.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard attempts to bring out some emotion between these co-stars but it never amounts to much. We’re so used to certain behaviors from the characters throughout the movie that when they introduce some emotions it really feels out of place. The writers behind The Hitman’s Bodyguard offer some interesting backstory to each of the characters and definitely provide motivation for their actions, but with how stiff the characters were built, there’s no room for either of them to grow.
The action is decent in The Hitman’s Bodyguard which I would say is the only good thing about the film. It reminds me a lot of Matthew Vaughn’s style of directing with previous action films like Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Sequences towards the end offer bright, long takes that really bring you into the film. I did appreciate watching a film that didn’t have endless amounts of cuts during action scenes which is where Jackson and Reynolds do shine and offer some fun moments. The action scenes are the only times in the film where Jackson and Reynolds seem to click in the film and it’s definitely the high point of the movie.
It is rather disappointing that two hilarious stars like Jackson and Reynolds can’t seem to connect in a comedy that is built for each of them to provide authentic laughs and thrilling sequences. The only fun thing about this film is the well-directed action that is equally brutal and satisfying to watch. I left the theater wanting more from both stars regarding their chemistry and the jokes attempted. At least we can look forward to Reynolds reprising his role of Wade in next summer’s Deadpool 2.
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The Hitman’s Bodyguard runs 1 hour 58 minutes and is rated R R for strong violence and language throughout.